Netflix’s resident horror master, Mike Flanagan, has adapted two of Stephen King’s works to date—Gerald’s Game in 2017, and then King’s Shining sequel, Doctor Sleep, in 2019. Even in his non-King works, though, Flanagan frequently shows his fandom for the Maine-based novelist, whether that’s simply by importing some of King’s love for the intersection between regular folks and creeping, corrupting evil into his works, or with more explicit references—like the cover of an illustrated version of The Gunslinger, the first book of King’s sprawling Dark Tower series, that popped up in Flanagan’s The Midnight Club.
In a recent interview with IGN, Flanagan made it clear that he’s no casual Tower fan, either, describing an adaptation of King’s seven-novel series—which blends Westerns, high fantasy, science fiction, and pretty much every other idea or concept that floated through King’s head between 1982 and 2004 into one massive world—as his “Everest.”
The Dark Tower has, of course, been adapted for the screen once before, with Nikolaj Arcel’s disastrous film version of the books thudding into theaters in 2017. Flanagan is careful not to drag the movie version too hard, but does suggest that he thinks the film’s structure—which dropped King’s fantastical and bleak opening in favor of a long sequence set in “our” world, before Idris Elba’s Roland even appears—was a misstep.
Working himself up as he lays out his ideas, Flanagan says “his” Dark Tower would be a much straighter adaptation of the books, including King’s very good first line:
The first scene would be a black screen and the words, ‘The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed’ would come up in silence, and you’d hear the wind, and we’d gradually fade up to this Lawrence of Arabia-esque landscape with a silhouette in the distance just making his way across the hardpan. And we would build it out from there—in order—to the end.
If anyone was going to talk, say, Netflix, into trying something this ambitious, it’d be Flanagan—who’s generated a lot of heat for the streamer over the years, and with a consistency rarely seen in the streaming space. That being said, it’s hard not to imagine the Dark Tower brand might just be permanently tainted at this point, especially because any sufficiently expansive version of the books would, by necessity, also have to be pretty damn expensive. Still: Nice to think about—and Flanagan clearly agrees.