Universal rethinking this whole Dark Tower thing, may dump the project
Just two months after pulling the plug on Guillermo del Toro's ambitious (and expensive) horror-adventure AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS, Universal is getting cold feet about another expensive epic. The studio has had a series of meetings this week to discuss "budgetary complications" that have arisen on THE DARK TOWER and are reevaluating their plans for the franchise.
Last September it was announced that Ron Howard would adapt Stephen King's book series into a film trilogy bridged by a pair of TV series. Universal would release the films while NBC would air the series. It certainly seemed an ambitious plan though, given the scope of the books, one of the only ways to faithfully adapt the project. Howard and Universal may have bitten off more then they could chew though as production costs have been rising while doubts about the commercial viability of the project have grown.
As of today, Universal and Howard are still moving ahead as if the project is still on.
[UPDATE: Deadline is reporting that Universal has now halted pre-production and put all staff on hiatus until they reach a final decision.]
But next week a decision will be made as to the future of the project and it includes a few options. First, Universal could decide that they're nervous but optimistic and proceed as originally planned. This seems unlikely though as there's been enough fiscal concern to get to a point where they need to completely reevaluate their plans.
Second, the scope of the film could be cut drastically. Most likely the TV component could be scuttled while paring down the trilogy to a standalone film with at least the hopes of making future films. Lastly, Universal could put the project into turnaround and allow Howard and Imagine Entertainment to shop the film to other studios.
Javier Bardem is currently attached to star as Roland Deschain in the film but if there are any significant delays, his involvement could be at risk, only further jeopardizing the status of the already tenuous project.
If Howard is unable to get the film off the ground, it wouldn't be the first time a high-profile filmmaker failed in their attempt to adapt THE DARK TOWER. JJ Abrams and his "Lost" co-creator bought the rights to the series from Stephen King for $19 but eventually scrapped the idea.