Everything We Know About The Dark Tower

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By Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)
 
This summer, fans of Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series will finally get to see Roland Deschain, Jake Chambers, and the Man in Black come to life on screens in theaters across the country. After 10 years of on-and-off development, the movie will finally become a reality, and we have all the information available about the upcoming film below.
 
Stephen King began writing “The Gunslinger,” in 1977 and readers were finally able to enjoy the published work in 1982. During the next couple decades, King continued the epic story of the last gunslinger and the Dark Tower over the course of seven more books. And like many of his stories over the years, Hollywood picked up King’s creation to share with the masses. (And fans are thrilled!)
 
Getting the creation to the masses has been a challenge! The Dark Tower film was stuck in production hell for almost a decade. In 2007, J.J. Abrams (known for his work on the series Lost and the Star Trek franchise reboot) planned to direct the first version of the film. The movie never seemed to get off the ground, for a variety of reasons, and Abrams stepped away from the project in 2009. In 2010, Ron Howard jumped on board with the project with Universal Pictures. The plan was to have a trilogy of Dark Tower movies, with two seasons of a television series to fill the gaps between the films. Unfortunately, Universal cancelled the project due to budgetary concerns. Fans were giving up hope that they would ever see the books adapted to film, but in April of 2015, Sony Pictures announced they would be fast tracking the project. Ron Howard remained with the film as a producer, but Nicolas Arcel was chosen to carry the directing torch for The Dark Tower. A huge fan of Stephen King, The Dark Tower is in loving hands with the Danish director at the helm.
 
The script for The Dark Tower was penned by Akiva Goldsman, Jeff Pinkner, Anders Thomas Jensen, and director Nicolas Arcel. In addition, Stephen King has played in role in the script writing and editing. Having created, known, and loved the characters since the 1970s, King has been an advocate for the story, ensuring that the essence of the Dark Tower and Mid-World will be captured in The Dark Tower. He’s been on the emotional roller coaster since 2007, along with the fans!
 
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Filming of The Dark Tower finally began in South Africa in April of 2016. (Filming has also occurred in New York City.) The science fantasy western horror film (It’s a genre-bending mouthful, I know.) has finished filming and is currently in post-production. The original February 17, 2017 premiere date was pushed by Sony Pictures to July 28, 2017. The delay is reportedly due to needed work on the visual effects of the film. (Produced on a budget of $60 million, the company had to decide to pay for rushed effects and potentially have fewer or lower quality effects to show for it, or to delay The Dark Tower premiere to reduce costs and still get the desired visual effect results.) Meanwhile, as time winds down toward the premiere in July, an official trailer for the film has yet to be released. (But keep an eye out!)
 
The film has quite the starring cast. One of the first cast was Matthew McConaughey, who will be playing Randall Flagg/Walter Paddick/Man in Black. His casting in the role was received extremely well and photos from filming show McConaughey embodying the look and feel of the dark villain.
 
Shortly after, Idris Elba was cast as the main protagonist, Roland Deschain. There was some resistance from fans in the casting choice because Roland is a Caucasian in the books. It appears that the main concern is not that the character can’t be played by an African-American actor, but rather that it poses some problems as another character in the books is wildly racist toward Caucasians, which causes its fair share of strife in the book series. Most fans are just wondering how that subplot can be played out now that Elba is playing the role. However, Stephen King himself has voiced his approval of Elba as Roland and is supportive of the choice.
 
The rest of the cast of The Dark Tower includes Tom Taylor (as Jake Chambers), Abbey Lee (as Tirana), Jackie Earle Haley (as Richard Sayre, a humanoid vampire leader), Fran Kranz (as Pimli, Paddick’s right-hand man), Michael Barbieri (as Jake’s friend Timmy), Katheryn Winnick (as Timmy’s mother Laurie), and Alex McGregor (as Roland’s lost love, Susan Delgado). What might be noticeably absent from the cast list are names for Eddie and Susannah, whom readers will know as members of Roland’s ka-tet. It turns out that the pivotal characters will not be present in the first film. However, producers and the director have confirmed that Eddie and Susannah certainly have a place in the story… So if there’s a sequel, we’ll be lucky enough to see them join the adventure!
 
So what’s the story? The bare bone basics are right here! (Spoiler free. I promise.) The film will take us on a long walk with Roland Deschain, the last noble gunslinger of Mid-World, to find (and hopefully save) the Dark Tower. The Dark Tower is the merging point for the multiverse, and without it reality itself in every universe would unravel. While Roland heads toward the Dark Tower, the Man in Black (who also goes by Walter Paddick, Randall Flagg, and other names) is a mysterious and powerful sorcerer who is a challenger to Roland. The Man in Black is seeking to destroy the Dark Tower and the Beams that support it. During the journey, Roland comes across a variety of people and has quite the adventure, along with his protégé and sort-of son, Jake Chambers. Jake comes from our world, finds his way to Mid-World, and with his psychic powers, called the “touch,” he joins Roland in the journey to the Dark Tower.
 
Now, logically, the movie would be expected to be based on the first book of the series, “The Gunslinger.” Stephen King has confirmed that the story will begin as the first book does, with a line all fans of the book series will know, “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”
 
However, King has also stated that the rest of the film will bring us into the story around the mid-series point, rather than the very beginning! King posted a photo on Twitter in May of 2016 with the Horn of Eld in the background, overlaid with the phrase, “last time around,” which implies that The Dark Tower movie will actually be a quasi-sequel to the book series. Time in King’s Dark Tower series tends to be circular and repetitive, so this may not surprise readers of the books, and will allow flexibility in the telling of the story in this movie adaptation. Arcel told Entertainment Weekly, “It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.” This will allow for the film to make some changes, including a large number of it taking place in our world in present day, and not just in the fictional Mid-World.
 
The news doesn’t just end with The Dark Tower movie! In September 2016, Entertainment Weekly reported that a television series would follow the film, with an expected premiere in 2018. The first season of the series is expected to follow material in the fourth Dark Tower book, “Wizard and Glass,” which brings us into the world of a young Roland. Idris Elba and Tom Taylor are already signed on to reprise their roles as Roland and Jake, however a young Roland and other character casting has not yet been confirmed. The show will be executively produced by people intimately involved with the movie, such as Jeff Pinkner, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer. Director Nicolas Arcel and screen writer Anders Thomas Jensen are already working on the script for the show (and also acting as executive producers). MRC and Sony Pictures have already committed to backing not only a pilot, but financing 10-13 episodes for the season. While there is no distributor for the show yet, the team is already anticipating filming in 2017 to accommodate the aforementioned 2018 release. Not to be caught off guard, they have concluded that further seasons of a Dark Tower television series would be possible, using materials pulled from Marvel’s “Dark Tower” comic books, which delve even further into Roland’s gunslinger past.
 
After 10 years of struggle to get The Dark Tower on the big screen, big plans are unfolding for the book series to create a franchise of epic proportions. A television show is being created in conjunction with the film, and there are great hopes for movie sequels to continue telling the story of Roland and Jake Chambers and allow us to meet the other members of Roland’s ka-tet, Eddie and Susannah. For now, we will anxiously await The Dark Tower premiere on July 28, 2017.


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