After finally taking a sobering look at Ron Howard’s plan to spend much of the next decade adapting Stephen King’s The Dark Tower into three feature films and two television miniseries, Universal has passed on the project, unable to reach a mutual agreement with Howard and fellow producers Akiva Goldsman and Brian Grazer on how to keep the costs down. The decision came after May’s forced hiatus, at which time the studio insisted it was just a necessary postponement to get the budget under control. However, after reviewing Goldsman’s script for the first film and its TV follow-up—and the attached bill with all the zeroes on it—Universal decided it was only willing to commit to a single movie, balking at another massive genre undertaking in much the same way it passed on Guillermo del Toro’s At The Mountains Of Madness in favor concentrating on other movies it had already shelled out a bunch of money on, like Battleship.
That plan was unacceptable to Howard et al., who are now, of course, free to shop The Dark Tower around to other financiers who might be willing to put that much faith in him and the idea. But given that Howard has been quietly attaching himself to other projects (including the Chris Hemsworth-starring Formula 1 movie Rush and Spy Vs. Spy), it seems doubtful. On the bright side, perhaps Stephen King can simply work all of this into his upcoming Dark Tower continuation in much the same way he introduced the character of “Stephen King,” and have The Gunslinger discover that the director of Willow is attempting to channel his quest into a movie. Then it can be revealed that The Crimson King is a Universal shareholder, whose nefarious plan involves allocating all the studio resources toward movies based on board games.