‘Ted’ Backer MRC In Talks To Finance Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’

UPDATE: Media Rights Capital is in serious talks to take on The Dark Tower after Warner Bros declined to make what potentially amounts to three feature films and two limited run TV series. MRC’s Modi Wiczyk is a big fan of the Stephen King novel series, I hear, and the company is eager to capitalize on the positive momentum they got from developing and financing the Seth MacFarlane-directed summer sleeper hit Ted with Mark Wahlberg. MRC next has the Neill Blomkamp-directed Elysium with Matt Damon, and the company has the capital to back an ambitious project like The Dark Tower with director Ron Howard eyeing Russell Crowe as the gunslinger Roland Deschain and his quest to travel through a Western-style world woven with magic to find the Dark Tower, mankind’s only hope. Akiva Goldsman adapted the book and is producing along with Brian Grazer and Stephen King. Even though MRC was unavailable to comment, I expect this deal to make quickly. MRC has a distribution arrangement with Universal, but it’s unclear whether that studio would release the film. Universal developed it but passed on making the project before it moved to Warner Bros.

EARLIER, 5:02 PM: Warner Bros took the easy out and has passed on The Dark Tower, the ambitious multi-platform adaptation of Stephen King’s novel series. After getting an overhauled script from Oscar winning scribe Akiva Goldsman, the studio just balked on the project that Ron Howard wants to direct with Brian Grazer, Goldsman and King producing, and with their A Beautiful Mind star Russell Crowe being eyed to play the gunman Roland Deschain. Warner Bros follows Universal, which also bailed on making the project.

It’s something of an odd move for Warner Bros, given all the talk out there that with Harry Potter and the Chris Nolan-directed Batman movies over, the studio badly needs some franchise blood and keeps swinging and missing with its attempts to mint franchises out of its DC Comics stable of characters like Green Lantern and Jonah Hex. I just interviewed the author; King knows his way around a good story, and here is how he described what is waiting for whoever steps up to fund this movie: “The Dark Tower, to me, and I’m not unbiased because I’m the writer on this thing, but to me it looks like gold on the ground waiting to be picked up.” You need guts to find gold in this precarious time in the film business, and Warner Bros ultimately didn’t show any here. Peter Jackson is lucky that Bob Shaye ran New Line when he was down to his last chance to get The Lord Of The Rings made. If he was out pitching that movie today, I doubt that Jackson would have been able to persuade Warner Bros to say yes to what became a billion dollar franchise. I hope that Howard and his posse reload and try again, but this is a major setback for them.

Comments (232)

  • The gold is at HBO where this can be done as a 20 hour event series the same way HBO made Band of Brothers and The Pacific. It’s HBO or nothing.

    Comment by Roland Deschain — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:09pm PDT  
    • I’ll go a step further; not only should it be a series on HBO, to avoid casting issues (the actor for Jake inevitibly aging, for instance) and to really explore and illustrate the dynamic world of Roland, I think it should be animated. Not in a bright, Toy Story or Lilo & Stitch kind of way, but a dark, edgy way. Anime, without the cliche character models.

      Comment by Jed — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:59pm PDT  
      • As animated sounds like a good idea, not everyone likes dark animated series. I would watch it if it was made into a movie with Russel Crowe, but I wouldn’t watch the animated version. The books were awesome, and I thought to myself when reading them that they would make a great movie!

        Comment by Candi — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:51pm PDT  
        • An animated Dark Tower would be a desperate last ditch effort to save a dying project. Any one in talks to take over this franchise better forget about the theatrical component and go straight to cable.

          Comment by Beatrix Kiddo — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 8:26pm PDT  
      • Yes I completely agree an anime series would fit the dark tower. They cant chop it up or leave out segments the whole story would be lost, no movie could be long enough and like you said the characters ageing…I hope they do it

        Comment by eric byers — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:54pm PDT  
      • No, lets not. We want to see the world of Roland, not through a kiddie dream world, but as if we ourselves could enter through a doorway to Midworld and touch it.

        Comment by Angel — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:54pm PDT  
        • Why do people who have never seen good animation always go the kiddie route with it? All animation is not kiddie. Broaden your horizons.

          I agree with the preferably not animation tone, but if it comes to poor casting choices (for the love of all that is right and good NOT RUSSELL CROWE) I’d rather have the animation.

          Comment by JR — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 10:21pm PDT  
        • Well spoken

          Comment by Joe — Tuesday September 25, 2012 @ 9:12am PDT  
      • As long as they dont film the last 2 books the series should be ok,

        Comment by Mike — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:56pm PDT  
        • As a King devotee (he’s the reason I started writing in the fifth grade), I have to disagree. The last two were to of my favorite of the series. He ended it perfectly. It was bittersweet, but to end it any other way would have felt wrong and un-King like.

          Comment by Mark — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 9:18pm PDT  
        • I was wondering if I was the only one disappointed by the last two books.

          Comment by Jugger72 — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 5:00am PDT  
        • ALL DARK TOWER NOVELS SHOULD BE FILMED!

          Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday April 30, 2013 @ 12:44am PDT  
      • I think animated would be pretty cool. I’m thinking about the Dark Tower series done in a similar way as A Scanner Darkly or Borderlands, if you know the movie and video game (respectively)

        Comment by Eric — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:36pm PDT  
      • hell noooo not animated!! this needs to be done right!! it will parallel “lord of the rings” if done correctly!

        Comment by marci — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:46pm PDT  
        • LOTR, while being a great movie, was a disastrous, epic failure as a book adaptation, i’d hate to see it happen to DT. As 30-40% of LOTR was cut, almost 30% of it was changed, making DT into a movie that parallels it would be a slap in the face to King’s genius and all the effort he put into writing it. I have to say that his other works that were made into movies had left same bitter aftertaste, let’s all remember ending of “The Mist” (disgusting) or the whole of 1408 (ugh!), i’m still hoping that he’d have more respect to his epic about the gunslinger than to let director butcher it the way they did to all of the above.

          Comment by daemon — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 12:09am PDT  
          • I totally agree daemon. thanks. Oh yeah,and NO RUSSEL CROWE!!! WTF are they thinking???

            Comment by Joe — Tuesday September 25, 2012 @ 9:16am PDT  
    • totally agree, and if not that then animated like spawn was on hbo, sadly alot of people roll their eyes when they hear animated but with the budget that would be needed for live action to be as good as readers imagined it when they read it it might never be made

      Comment by bobbycracky@yahoo.com — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:00pm PDT  
    • Yes, I agree they have the kind of artistic integrity that this series deserves. Even Game of Thrones is great(IMO). I don’t agree with Russel Crowe playing Roland. That’s a strange choice.

      Comment by Aaron — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:58pm PDT  
      • Thank you, I am so tired of hearing that Russell Crowe should play Roland….where did that idea even come from??

        Comment by jizzamie — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:09pm PDT  
      • The guy’s just not likable. We’re a long way from Gladiator. This whole project sounds cool but I’m less interested in it with Crowe.

        Comment by Michael — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:22pm PDT  
      • It would pain me NOT to watch this if made into a movie. But if they cast Russell Crowe that is a definite possibility. I can’t stand the guy.

        Comment by Gary — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:41pm PDT  
    • yeah I think An HBO version would be a better way to go .

      Comment by willlaim drewe — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:06pm PDT  
    • Brilliant idea, and I hope the stories remain true to King’s narrative when translated to the screen, as there is so much going on and with so many links to his other stories. I have read the Dark Tower books several times, and enjoy them hugely. Maybe a feature film of the new book.

      Comment by Candi — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:47pm PDT  
      • I also wonder about Russell Crowe being chosen for Roland. I see him through the narrative and pictures in the books as being more Hugh Jackman.

        Comment by Candi — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:50pm PDT  
        • Feel I just want to say, I am a different Candi to the one who posted saying she would watch it with Crowe earlier in the month! I didn’t realize there was another commenting. Don’t want you all to think I am bonkers or something!

          Comment by Candi — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 7:54pm PDT  
          • I know it`s a few months late but i just got back on the net and no i don`t think you`re bonkers but think hugh jackman could be more of a gunslinger than flying swords or arrows crowe.

            Comment by wayne — Wednesday March 6, 2013 @ 5:48am PST  
        • While reading all these I was thinking Russell Crowe definitely not, but I couldn’t really think who would ‘be’ Roland, but you’ve nailed it. Yes Hugh Jackman would be perfect!!

          Comment by janeburns — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 12:20am PDT  
          • I think Jim Caviezel would be perfect for it having just watched Person Of Interest.

            Comment by Pliary — Tuesday September 4, 2012 @ 5:40am PDT  
        • HUGH JACKMAN!!!???!!!?? RUSSEL CROWE!!!??!!!??? What are you people thinking!!???!!!?? He already screwed up Wolverine. Why give him Roland!?!?!? Im thinkin more like the lead dude on Hell On Wheels.

          Comment by Joe — Tuesday September 25, 2012 @ 9:20am PDT  
          • YES YES YES!!! I was wondering if I was the only one thinking that he would be perfect!

            Comment by Erin — Friday November 30, 2012 @ 11:47am PST  
          • The very first episode of Hell on Wheels when I saw Anson Mount I immediately thought of Roland

            Comment by Erin — Friday November 30, 2012 @ 11:52am PST  
          • Russel Crowe? Hugh Jackman? Did everyone forget the end of the first book, where Roland ages into a much older man. Plus, they nicknamed him the big tall and ugly. Hugh and Russel are both average height at best. They need an actor that can get away with fewer lines, that can look both ancient and just merely old at the same time. King had Clint Eastwood in mind when he wrote the character. Therefor they need an actor with Mr. Eastwood’s qualities. It’s only a shame he is a little aged to play the role. Whenever I think of Roland, I picture the Eastwood of Unforgiven.
            What they need is to stop suggesting flavor of the month actors. Pick up somebody that has been around a while. Someone with experience, to imprint on a cast of mostly unknowns. They need a cast that loves the story, and isn’t just doing it to make themselves famous.
            I think Lucas Bryant would make a decent Roland. Sure a little young, but he pulls off the world-weary feeling quite well in Haven. Plus, there is an inroads into another Stephen King piece. (admittedly, it would also be all too easy to cast Eric Balfour as Eddie Dean, but if I had to pick one actor from Haven, it would be Bryant.)
            From there, Jamey Sheridan from The Stand. He’s played Randall Flagg once, I say put him in the role of the Man in Black. He’s got the chops.
            Put the cast choices together, see if they get along, and mesh well. Do it right.
            As for the small rumblings about having Viggo play Roland… He is a good actor. Would do the roll justice, but people would only see Aragorn, and boy would they b**ch. However, he would do alright in, say, the role of Steven Deschain. We all can believe him as a King.
            I just have to be glad that no one has suggested Karl Urban for anything in this…

            Comment by Geoff — Tuesday January 15, 2013 @ 2:10am PST  
    • To be honest The Gunslinger series of books by Stephen King was a complete work of art, what a shame that Hollywood is not up to making such an epic work as this…They can make a bunch of crap but anything of epic porportion goes by the wayside…The truth is Hollywood does’nt have the balls to attempt this because they have nothing that can match Stephen King’s mind and they cannot stand being bested….Soooo enter HBO they have to do it in smaller pieces but at least most of it won’t be on the editing room floor.
      I do know that HBO has and has had some excellent producers many of which are up to the task.

      Comment by Marisol Arnold — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 2:00am PDT  
    • I can’t believe that anyone would pass on any Stephen King film adaptation, let alone one of his best stories ever! I am desperate to see this film as I’m sure are all King fans. Don’t think I would be as keen on an animation but would still see it anyway – it’s a Stephen King story! Please, please, somebody make the film.

      Comment by Jan — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 4:25am PDT  
    • koontz frankenstein please

      Comment by gnik — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 5:34pm PDT  
    • I would love to see THE DARK TOWER made into a HBO Series.
      HBO does Great work and by making it a TV Series all of Steven King’s Work could be included. It would be a Shame if they make a Movie and alot of the Material ends up on The Cutting Room Floor.

      Please HBO take on THE DARK TOWER !!!

      - MICHAEL ROCCO

      Comment by MICHAEL ROCCO — Friday October 26, 2012 @ 11:11am PDT  
  • Nothing surprises me with WB. They had all of DC’s comic character rights for years and has done nothing with them. Only till Marvel showed them how to do it right (with a lot less characters) did WB finally decided to jump back with open arms in the comic genre. I hate this studio with a passion

    Comment by babyjesus — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:19pm PDT  
    • As passionately as you hate grammar?

      Comment by GrmNzi — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:21pm PDT  
      • I cannot believe you wasted ten seconds of your life to write that.

        Comment by NziHater — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 4:11am PDT  
        • Ditto.

          Comment by Ditto — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 8:55am PDT  
  • Say sorry.

    Comment by Rick — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:21pm PDT  
  • Sounds to me that even though this shared feature/TV series model is a great way to go, Howard & Goldsman don’t seem to be the proper team to break this property on-screen. Kind of hope they step into producer roles and give a new director and creative team a crack at finally getting a greenlight on it.

    Comment by Tucker — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:22pm PDT  
    • If Goldsman can adapt “A Winter’s Tale”, then quite frankly … he can do anything. I’m wondering which books would be movies and which would be TV? Love the first one but apart from the massacre of the village, I’m not so sure it’s that cinematic. Same with the second only more so. Would definitely want to see “Wastelands” and “Wizard and Glass” as movies, but then the 7 Samurai book I could go with TV again. Thoughts?

      Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 5:10am PDT  
  • Key phrase: “After getting an overhauled script from Oscar winning scribe Akiva Goldsman, the studio just balked on the project..”

    Fantastic books, especially the first few of them, howeve, what an awful writer pairing.

    Comment by Claude — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:26pm PDT  
    • It does seem like it was a pretty short path from Goldsman turning in his draft to the studio deciding to punt, doesn’t it?

      This sharpens my suspicion (obviously shared by other commenters) that Goldsman is not the correct writer for this project. And Ron Howard doesn’t seem like the right director, either.

      I will know this project is in good hands when the producers send Russell Crowe packing, and instead hire someone who actually matches the Gunslinger’s well-described physicality, and possesses the ability to play Roland’s understated, simmering bad-itude in excellent fashion…

      …someone like Timothy Olyphant.

      Comment by PB — Wednesday August 22, 2012 @ 3:23pm PDT  
      • Amen.

        Comment by Rubber Man — Thursday August 23, 2012 @ 10:03am PDT  
      • Olyphant would be cool. I just wish JJ Abrams would have kept the rights to this. I love ron howard but this is soooo over his head. Give me Abrams directing and Spielberg producing.

        Comment by Joe — Tuesday September 25, 2012 @ 9:26am PDT  
  • All the majors are passing (and should be passing) on this expensive and bloated project. King now means nothing box office-wise and Howard’s last Western outing was a giant bomb! Remember — MISSING ?

    Comment by Jaydee — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:29pm PDT  
  • With Akiva this could very well be fool’s gold… I’m a fan of the books but I don’t have much faith in his adaptation, or his ability as a writer at all.

    Btw, why does this have to be “multi-platform?” How about just make one movie and let’s hope for the best… I don’t need a web-series, a comic book and a companion TV show.

    The books are cool but they aren’t THAT COOL.

    Comment by A Beautiful Spine — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:31pm PDT  
    • I know we could all disagree in this one, but i can tell you for me this 7 books are cool enough, and that the story needs more than one movie to be able to be told. And it has a lot of backstories that maybe wont fit in a movie format, for that reason i think this multi-plataform is needed. I know maybe that is not for everyone but in the end nothing in this world is for everyone.

      Comment by Iceman — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 6:14pm PDT  
    • Yes, they are THAT COOL. :p

      Comment by daemon — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 12:12am PDT  
    • Because that one movie would be 19 hours long?

      Comment by Anonymous — Tuesday August 21, 2012 @ 5:11am PDT  
      • loved what you did there.

        Comment by Everything19 — Tuesday January 15, 2013 @ 2:14am PST  
  • Haven’t read the series but when I first saw mention here of the proposed Dark Tower film/TV adaptation – plus the literally hundreds of comments from devoted fans and getting an idea of what the books are about from them – it certainly seemed like a good bet at least, if not definite ‘gold.’ Also made me curious to eventually check it out in written and/or motion picture form; looks like I’ll have only one option now as long as the Imagine project stays grounded…

    Comment by FT — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:31pm PDT  
  • Can understand WB backing out. The timing, the cost, and quite frankly, the recent record of Ron Howard and Imagine is a bit troublesome. I have been a big Ron Howard and Imagine fan, but recently the crap far exceeds the great storytelling.

    Granted, this could be huge, but right now the apparent reward does not warrant the risk.

    And remember, big time studio filmmaking is run by folks who become more risk conscious when their studio has recently had a few costly misses.

    Comment by FTCS — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:32pm PDT  
    • Agreed. Imagine has totally gone downhill in recent years — not as prolific or profitable as they once were. Sounds like a bad idea for MRC to waste all their “Ted” profits on this.

      Comment by JJ — Wednesday August 22, 2012 @ 2:44pm PDT  
  • No. Pretty good books, but they’re not movies.

    Comment by jer — Monday August 20, 2012 @ 5:35pm PDT  
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