For years, Stephen King’s eight-book fantasy horror epic, The Dark Tower, seemed unfilmable. How could Hollywood successfully approach King’s massive maxiseries that connects much of his fiction universe? Well, it was producer Ron Howard who took it upon himself to try.
While Howard was unsuccessful at shopping it around at first – the movie has lived at several studios over the years, including at Warner Bros., where it really seemed to have a fighting chance. It was finally Sony and MRC that took the reins of the movie, and now it’s ACTUALLY happening. King fans rejoice!
Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) directed and co-wrote the film adaptation. Fellow Danish filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen helped rewrite the script, which was originally penned by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner.
The movie stars Idris Elba as Roland, Matthew McConaughey as the Man in Black, and Tom Taylor as Jake Chambers.
Here’s everything else you need to know about The Dark Tower:
The Dark Tower News
Artist Jae Lee, who drew The Dark Tower comic book adaptation for Marvel, has created two beautiful posters for the movie. Check them out below:
In other news, two new trailers have arrived that reveal some of the easter eggs in the movie. You’ll find a plethora of nods to other works by Stephen King. Check them out below:
The Dark Tower Runtime
The runtime for The Dark Tower has been revealed. It’s 95-minutes long, which is surprisingly short for a movie that will adapt an 8-book saga. That said, director Nikolaj Arcel doesn’t think fans should worry. He told Slashfilm:
The good news here…the reason why many fans are worried about the run time is that they think we are trying to do everything in this film. Which we are not. This is ideally the first film. This is an introduction to the world and the characters. It’s not meant to be all the novels and we’re just trying to cram everything in there. So that’s one thing. And the script was really lean and tight. When I got on board, the script was very short, very lean. That’s one of the things that attracted me to it. I said “This is smart.” You start with a lean, mean story and you don’t try to cram everything in there. You just build the basic ideas. And if people enjoy it and if they like this world and these characters, we can start expanding.
Stephen King also reassured fans that the shorter running time is due to the lack of filler in the movie. It’s all meat, according to the King of Horror:
The Dark Tower Trailer
Check out the newest Dark Towertrailer right here:
The Dark Tower‘s magnum opus vignette trailer:
Here are a few new bits of footage from a featurette released by Sony:
Three short teasers have arrived in the lead up to the movie’s premiere in August. Check them out below:
The first trailer for The Dark Tower finally arrived in May! Check it out below:
We broke down this trailer for references, clues, and easter eggs right here!
The Dark Tower Release Date
The Dark Tower has been delayed once again, but only by a week. The film will now arrive on Aug. 4, 2017. The film has already been delayed once before – from Feb. 17 to July 28.
The Dark Tower Story
A few story details were revealed by Stephen King and Nikolaj Arcel in an interview with EW:
King has asked for the first movie to begin with the famous first line of The Gunslinger: “It should start that way. I’ve been pretty insistent about that. For those who don’t know the line, it goes: ‘The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.'”
King also revealed that the first film begins in the middle of things, not quite at the start of everything: “[The movie] starts in media res, in the middle of the story instead of at the beginning, which may upset some of the fans a little bit, but they’ll get behind it, because it is the story.”
The first movie isn’t quite The Gunslinger, but a mix of the first couple of books. The movie also takes a lot of inspiration from The Wasteland, the third book in the series.
“A lot of it takes place in our day, in the modern world,” added Arcel.
King revealed that the reason for starting a bit in the middle of the story is in the hopes of reviving producer Ron Howard’s idea to create a TV series around the films. Said King, “They’re still holding on to this idea that they can do a TV series, and they’ve got it pegged for that.” The earlier part of the narrative, depicting Roland’s youth, could become the focus of the show.
One of the things Arcel and King were sure to address was the change of a traditionally white Roland to a black man. King has said in the past and repeats in the interview that, “He can be white or black, it makes no difference to me. I think it opens all kind of exciting possibilities for the backstory.”
Arcel also brought up some of the criticism the film has faced for Elba’s casting, especially in regards to the change in dynamic between Roland and a black character in the book: “Some fans are asking, understandably, ‘What about the racial tension?’ But as the story progresses that will be made clear, how we’ll deal with all those things.”
You can listen to the full interview here:
How can Roland be black in the movie if he was a white man in the books? Well, it seems that the explanation is pretty simple if you’ve read the series all the way to the ending. This teaser reveals that this is in fact not a direct adaptation of the books… but a continuation:
Yeah, that’s the Horn of Eld. With the words “Last time around” superimposed over the image. It sounds like King is further drawing the line between what this movie could be and the straight adaptation many fans might expect. The Horn of Eld’s existence in the movie explains the subtle changes in the movie, which will actually take place after the coda of the final book in the series. Roland is all the way back at the beginning, but just a bit different.
Arcel also talked a bit more about how the film will actually serve as a sequel to King’s original series of books: “The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way,” Arcel told EW. “It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.”
The director also revealed that the rest of Roland’s Ka-tet will not appear in the film. Starting with the second book, The Drawing of the Three from 1987, the series featured two people from Earth: Eddie, a heroin junkie who got clean, and Susannah, an amputee with multiple personalities. They won’t be in the movie. Arcel is saving them for a sequel, in the event the movie doesn’t crap out.
“They’re certainly out there,” Arcel told EW. “I think the entire story deserves to be told and should be told. I would certainly be disappointed in myself or my collaborators if we didn’t bring them in. They’re such a huge part of the story.”
Did this bug King?
“All I can say is that Steve is our partner all the way through, so we don’t make a move without Stephen telling us, ‘That is The Dark Tower’ and when Stephen says, ‘It isn’t,’ which he has at times, we go, ‘Okay, let’s try something else,’” co-screenwriter Akiva Goldsman (A Beautiful Mind) told EW.
“I’m fine with it,” King told EW. “I know exactly where Akiva always planned to bring them in and that’s cool with me.”
King chilled the script with his own changes, making the Gunslinger the strong, nearly totally silent type, like the heroes of the old time westerns.
“I took a pen and cut Roland’s dialogue to the bone,” King told EW. “The less he says the better off, and why not? Idris Elba can act with his face. He’s terrific at it. He projects that sense of combined menace and security. [Roland] is the Western hero, the strong, silent type: ‘Yep,’ ‘Nope,’ and ‘Draw.’”
“The Dark Tower is about how we carry around our past, which of our ghosts travel with us, and how do we attend to them,” King says. “The ghosts of history, the ghosts of the people we’ve lost in order to get to whatever our Tower is.”
Said Elba about the first time we meet Roland, the main character, “When we meet Roland he’s a bit lost. He’s been walking around for a long time, so he definitely feels like a man who’s… coiled.” Elba also teased that Roland “has forgotten the face of his father” at the start of the movie, meaning we’ll meet a somewhat defeated gunslinger in pursuit of Walter, aka the Man in Black, McConaughey’s villain character.
Elba described what makes Roland such an interesting character:
There’s a mystical element to him. He’s about 200 years old. He’s been around for a long time, and has a deep-rooted connection with the [supernatural] nature of the film. Roland’s completely tuned into that. When you meet him, he’s very much a stoic man, doesn’t want to talk. But when you get to know him, he really knows quite a bit about the world and his world’s history.
And he very much knows the way The Man in Black works. He’s so clued up on that, which is what frustrates him. Because he can’t catch him.
While he’s driven by rage at first, Roland soon finds purpose in his search for a young boy named Jake (newcomer Tom Taylor), who possesses the power of “The Shine,” which is a power that should certainly be familiar to Constant Readers. Jake’s power is sought after by the Man in Black as well, who wants to use the boy to destroy the beams that hold the mythical Dark Tower in place.
“Until he meets Jake, he doesn’t have anything to believe in, really,” Elba said. “He’s really pent up and releases his soul through [defending] the boy.”
Elba also addressed the controversy surrounding his casting as a character that is white in the books. Although King has supported Elba’s casting, many fans feel that the black actor shouldn’t portray the character as it betrays the source material. Said Elba:
“It’s better just to treat it like no big deal. There should be no difference. The character that was written in Stephen’s imagination, it could be any color. It just happens to be me and, you know? In the artwork, it just so happens to be a white guy, but I don’t think that makes any difference. … I think what’s great about it, if I want to say anything about it, is that it is a sign of the times in terms of a colorless society. People go, ‘A good actor is a good actor,’ you know?
On the other hand, McConaughey has been a universally welcomed addition to the cast. He was actually the first cast member announced for the film, an important step for a movie that has suffered many false starts in the past. Now The Dark Tower movie is a reality and McConaughey is happy to talk about his character.
Surprisingly, McConaughey doesn’t view Walter, a character that appears as a bringer of death in many of King’s works, as a villain, describing him as “a man who exposes hypocrisies.” But even he had to admit that Walter, who is known as Randall Flagg later in the book series and in the larger King universe, is still pretty evil: “You know, he’s not literally the Devil, but I sure as hell think about him like the Devil. I think like the Devil would.”
McConaughey shared an interesting tidbit about Walter’s feelings towards the Gunslinger, who carries a deep hatred for the Man in Black. After all, the Man in Black is responsible for bringing about the apocalypse on Roland’s world. Still, Walter doesn’t feel the same hatred for Roland.
Said McConaughey, “I revere him. He’s really the only true adversary I have. I expose hypocrisies, and he’s the closest to pure there is. It’s his persistent resilience to be good and altruistic. He’s very precious to me. I almost don’t want to see him go.” It sounds almost like a Batman/Joker relationship, doesn’t it?
Walter even communicates with Roland throughout the movie with the use of powerful crystal orbs that allow him to see through different worlds:
So many times I’m just pumping him up, through sorcery, almost like the man in the corner of the ring for a boxer. ‘Come on … you can do this … stay in the game,’ because I want to keep him, I want to keep his vengeance to find me. I want to keep that very vital, you know? My want, my need, my mission is to bring down the Tower. My love, my adoration, my muse, my shadow, is Roland.
Why does Walter want to bring down the Dark Tower? It seems he just enjoys pure chaos. Once the Tower falls, All the gaps between the worlds are filled with blackness and evil,” said McConaughey. “Once I bring the Tower down, and take a seat next to the Crimson King, I’ve got my own plans from there as well…”
The Crimson King? Yes, he’s the evil god-like entity waiting for Roland and Walter at the top of the Tower. He’s also Walter’s master. We will undoubtedly learn more about this force of evil in the movie, as well.
EWalso confirmed we’ll see a couple of familiar locations from the books, including the Dixie Pig, a base of operations for the forces of the Crimson King in New York City, and Devar-Toi, a prison for the powerful psychics that Walter has kidnapped to help break down the beams of the Dark Tower. Walter hopes to capture Jake and bring him there.
Roland will have to stop Walter before he can complete his mission and destroy space and time once and for all. Time will tell if Roland can remember the face of his father.
The Dark Tower Cast
It’s official: Idris Elba will play Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower movie, and he will be accompanied by Matthew McConaughey, who’s set to play villain Randall Flagg! This may be the best casting news for a Stephen King movie in years. Most importantly, this means that production on this epic has finally begun!
Both Elba and McConaughey had been rumored for the film for months, but we hadn’t heard any solid confirmation from Sony. Said King of Elba’s casting, “I love it. I think he’s a terrific actor, one of the best working in the business now.
Director Nicolas Arcel said of McConaughey casting, “Matthew is an incredible actor who can do anything. That’s how I feel about Walter Padick. He could do anything.”
Variety reports that The Dark Tower movie has found its Jake Chambers. Newcomer Tom Taylor (The Last Kingdom) was chosen out of a worldwide search for the young actor who would play the role, according to the site. Jake plays an interesting role in the book series from Stephen King as main character Roland’s protege and somewhat son.
Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen) is joining the epic adventure film as a villain from the books named Richard Sayre. The character doesn’t show up in Stephen King’s book series until the fifth book, but we’ve known for a little while that the first Dark Tower movie will begin somewhere in the middle of the story. It won’t be a direct adaptation of the first book, The Gunslinger.
Sayre first appeared in Wolves of the Calla as a leader of a cult of vampires. His arc includes trying to give a hero character AIDS and helping a demon/woman give birth to a human/spider hybrid baby. It’s King. You understand.
Abbey Lee (Mad Max: Fury Road) has been cast as Tirana, a villain from the later Dark Tower books. It’s interesting that Sony has cast this character so early on, since I’m not sure she appears at all in The Gunslinger…It could be that they’re moving some stuff around here and there. This confused many fans, especially since Tirana is a very minor character in the final book of the series. So for her to appear in the first movie means that there’s some serious restructuring going on in the script.
Ain’t It Cool has some info on Tirana that might clear up the confusion, though. According to the site, Tirana has nothing more than a cameo, showing up in Devar-Toi, a prison controlled by the Crimson King, the series’ main antagonist. Devar-Toi doesn’t appear until the later books, either. Stephen King has already confirmed that the first movie will jump around a bit and start in the middle of things instead of where we see Roland at the beginning of the book series, so Tirana’s cameo holds up based on that.
Tirana is a Can-Toi, a race of humanoid creatures also known as Low Men. They work for the Crimson King, the main antagonist of the series.
Fran Kranz has joined the cast of The Dark Tower as Pimli, the Man in Black’s right hand man. No further information is available at this time. (via THR)
Michael Barbieri (Little Men) has been cast in The Dark Tower movie in the role of Timmy, a character that first appeared in the third book of the series, The Wasteland, and is Jake Chambers’ friend.
Katheryn Winnick has been cast as Laurie Chambers, Jake’s mom.
Alex McGregor will play Susan Delgado, Roland’s one true love. It’s unclear in what capacity she’ll appear in the movie, especially if Wizard & Glass, which chronicles Roland’s early adventures as a young gunslinger, is being adapted into a TV series.
Speaking to IGN, Stephen King has confirmed that Cujo, the infamous dog that terrorized a boy and his mother in the novel of the same name, will make a cameo appearance in The Dark Tower.
“If viewers who are familiar with my work look very closely, they might see Cujo. Keep an eye out for Cujo in New York City,” King told IGN.
King also expressed his excitement for Nikolaj Arcel’s take on The Dark Tower universe. Arcel has taken several liberties with the story and King thinks this is a good thing.
“What I’ve always enjoyed is seeing my stories serving as a launching pad of some new or adapted vision of what I’ve done. The people involved in the movie all had the latitude, which I was happy to give them, to reinvent it.”
The Dark Tower Director
Nikolaj Arcel (A Royal Affair) directed and co-wrote the film adaptation for Sony Pictures. Fellow Danish filmmaker Anders Thomas Jensen helped rewrite the script, which was originally penned by Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner.
Although you might best know Arcel as the scribe of the Swedish film, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, his film, A Royal Affair, was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 85th Academy Awards.
So, you may be asking, “Why this guy?” According to Deadline, Arcel knows the ins and outs of the Stephen King universe and has the potential to really do the books justice on the big screen:
Arcel, when he was getting going in Denmark, taught himself to speak and read English in order to consume Stephen King’s books in the writer’s native tongue. Arcel is a huge fan of The Dark Tower and knows the series well. That impressed the studio, and he showed with Dragon Tattoo that he could go dark, which is important in this series, a mix of horror and fantasy.
Take that how you will. The good (bad?) news is that someone is finally moving forward with this adaptation. We’ll keep you updated as we learn more.
The Dark Tower Poster
The first official poster for The Dark Tower has arrived! Check it out below:
It’s quite a stunning image featuring Roland, Jake, and the Man in Black. Still no news on the film’s trailer or when it will finally arrive. It will hopefully be soon since this movie is coming up in just a couple of months!
The Dark Tower Photos
Yahoo (via Bloody Disgusting) has released two new still from The Dark Tower. It’s our best look yet at Roland and Jake Chambers, two of the main characters in the Stephen King adaptation. Check them out below:
Sony Pictures dropped yet another poster for The Dark Tower movie, this time it features Idris Elba’s Roland walking alongside Tom Taylor’s Jake Chambers. A familiar greeting from the books accompanies the image. Check it out:
Bloody Disgusting has another photo from the upcoming Dark Tower movie. In it, Roland (Idris Elba) faces off against the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey). Will their meeting play out like in The Gunslinger? Check it out below:
Tom Taylor, who will play little Jake Chambers in the upcoming Dark Tower movie has shared a massive teaser on his Twitter that hints at a major moment from the books. Check out the picture:
You may remember the line, “Go then. There are other worlds than these,” from The Gunslinger, in which Jake finds himself in a perilous position and tells Roland to continue on in his quest. This, of course, has major ramifications in the next two books, as it is revealed that there are many parallel worlds tied to the Dark Tower and that Roland will have to exploit doors into other dimensions to complete his quest.
In the picture, Jake seems to be standing in Dutch Hill, a house that protects the gateway into Mid-World, where Roland’s from. It looks like Jake will have a somewhat similar arc in the movie, which is a continuation of the books and not in fact a direct adaptation.
EW revealed some photos from the set of The Dark Tower that you’ll want to see. Included are shots of Roland, Jake, and Walter:[gallery:0]
We might have our first look at the Little Sisters of Eluria in The Dark Tower movie. South African prosthetics artist Chad Waller has revealed images on his Instagram of prosthetics for what he calls “demonic nuns.”
The Little Sisters appear in the short story of the same name in King’s collection Everything’s Eventual. Taking place before the first book in the series, The Gunslinger, these nun-like nurses heal Roland after he’s attacked by Slow Mutants only to reveal that they’re actually vampires who feed on their patients once they’ve recovered. Of course, Waller calls them “demonic nuns,” but that might just be a little misdirection.
Check out the pictures:
Waller also posted a picture of the film’s logo, but the picture seems to have been taken down. In fact, it seems that many crewmembers posted pictures from the film’s set in Cape Town, but most of them have been taken down. One picture, according to Birth Movies Death, could be a set for a Manni village, but that’s just speculation. There was also a sketch of what looked like Idris Elba in full Roland garb, but that was also taken down.
The Dark Tower Spoilers
Ain’t It Cool reported on some story elements from Akiva Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner’s original script for the film — before Thomas Jensen was tapped to do rewrites. From what the site understands, director Nikolaj Arcel’s movie will keep much of the story from the earlier draft.
Here are some interesting things from that script that might have made the cut:
Jake Chambers, played by Tom Taylor is the main character of the film. The story revolves around Jake trying to get from our world to Mid-World, not unlike the events of The Wasteland, while the Man in Black gives chase. Matthew McConaughey’s character wants to capture Jake and use his powers to bring down the Dark Tower.
A lot of the movie will actually take place in our world in present day, as Arcel previously stated. In fact, the film apparently closes with Roland in our world, evading the Crimson King’s forces while looking for medicine after his assumed fight with the lobstrocities in The Drawing of the Three. But don’t get too excited: apparently, Eddie and Detta/Odetta are being saved for a sequel, so they won’t make an appearance here.
One interesting aspect of the earlier script is that Roland first shows up in the desert about fifteen minutes into the movie…with the Horn of Eld! Which may mean that the entire movie series takes place in a later cycle for Roland than what we see in the books and that he’s just a bit closer to his redemption. This would also allow Arcel to make some changes to the story without enraging fans, since they would apply to the in-universe logic: every time Roland begins his quest for the Dark Tower, things alter a little.
Much of the first act is from The Gunslinger, including Roland’s showdown on Tull. The second act features Roland and Jake’s first meeting, although this has been altered quite a bit in the script. In this version of the journey, Roland doesn’t actually have any interest in making it to the Dark Tower. There’s a sense that Roland has given up. Instead, he’s just out for revenge. Interestingly enough, it’s Jake who’s on a quest for the Dark Tower and believes that he needs to help the Gunslinger get there. Apparently, this script even gave Jake telepathic powers.
One final thing about these two: Jake’s demise from The Gunslinger still takes place, but it’s reportedly a bit different and has a different outcome than in the book. No further details on that, though.