Stephen King’s ‘Dark Tower’ is Finally Making It to Screen

Stephen King
Stephen King | Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP/Getty Images

Hollywood has long since been attempting to bring Stephen King’s epic fantasy series The Dark Tower to the big screen, with no actual success. But it looks like the project may finally be getting another shot, this time at Sony Pictures and with two very big names attached. Matthew McConaughey and Idris Elba have reportedly joined the cast of The Dark Tower, bringing some serious star power to the long-developing adaptation.

Inspired by Robert Browning’s poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came,” The Lord of the Rings and Sergio Leone’s spaghetti Western classics, The Dark Tower books chronicle the story of Roland Deschain, known as “Mid-World’s last gunslinger.” The series follows Roland as he travels southeast across a post-apocalyptic landscape, on the hunt for a fabled building said to be the nexus of all universes, the Dark Tower.

Sony first announced plans to adapt the eight-book series in April, teaming with Media Rights Capital in hopes of turning the novels into an epic franchise that combines both a movie series and a complementary television show. At the time, the studio described the movie as “a blend of horror and fantasy.” Now, the project is finally moving forward, with the casting of its two main leads.

According to Entertainment Weekly, Elba is set to take on the role of the gunslinger while McConaughey will play the mystical foe known as the man in black. King himself, who is expected to to serve as executive producer, confirmed the news on Twitter, with the two actors doing the same shortly after.



Nikolaj Arcel, who is best known for the 2012 Danish film A Royal Affair, is set to direct the movie. Meanwhile, Akiva Goldsman, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Erica Huggins, the same group that has been working on launching the project for close to a decade, are on board to produce. Arcel and Goldsman also co-wrote the new script for the film alongside Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen.

The Dark Tower VII book cover
The Dark Tower VII book cover | Scribner via

It shouldn’t come as a huge surprise that the project nabbed two of Hollywood’s biggest names. Previous attempts at a Dark Tower adaptation—and there have been many —have also drawn notable stars. Russell Crowe was once offered the lead role in Warner Bros.’ iteration of the film, but the studio eventually ended up dropping the project due to budgetary concerns. Javier Bardem was also once attached to a different version set to directed by Howard, but that interpretation never ended up coming to fruition either.

In fact, while dozens of King’s most popular works have been successfully adapted to the big screen over the year, The Dark Tower books have always proved too expansive and complex in scope to bring to cinematic life. King acknowledged the series’ bumpy road to screen to Entertainment Weekly, saying, “The thing is, it’s been a looong trip from the books to the film. When you think about it, I started these stories as a senior in college, sitting in a little sh-tty cabin beside the river in Maine, and finally this thing is actually in pre-production now. I’m delighted, and I’m a little bit surprised.”

So what exactly fans can expect from Sony’s upcoming adaptation? The studio originally wanted the first film to primarily focus on 1982’s The Gunslinger, but that plan has since been revised a bit. “[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,” King told EW. But the author insists that the movie will still start with the famous first line from the first book: ” The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.” It’s unclear if Sony still plans on making a coinciding TV series.

With two stellar talents on board, the project seems to be off to a promising start. Whether it will  prove to be the adaptation that audiences have been waiting for all these years remains to be seen. In the meantime, fans will have to stay tuned for more casting news and specific plot details in the coming weeks.

As of now, The Dark Tower has started filming in South Africa, with a scheduled premiere date of  January 13, 2017.

Update 5//17/16: New images of Idris Elba on the set of The Dark Tower have found their way online, seen below.

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