After almost a decade of on-and-off development, Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is finally hitting the big screen. The long-awaited film adaptation is in full swing, with casting well underway and filming officially kicking off earlier this spring. Here’s everything we know about the highly anticipated The Dark Tower movie so far.
1. It’s been a very long time coming
Efforts to adapt King’s The Dark Tower series of novels for the screen have been ongoing since 2007. The project has experienced countless starts and stops with various acclaimed filmmakers and studios throughout the years. J.J. Abrams was first attached to produce and direct the adaptation with Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof in 2007, but they dropped their efforts in 2009.
In 2010, it was revealed that Ron Howard was planning on teaming with Universal Pictures to adapt The Dark Tower into a trilogy of feature films alternating with two seasons of a television series to bridge gaps between the films. Javier Bardem was offered a lead role in the project and a team was put together to produce the television portion of the adaptation. However, after several production delays, Universal ultimately decided to cancel the entire project, due to budgetary concerns.
Sony finally stepped up to take on a revised version of the adaptation last year, teaming with Media Rights Capital (MRC) to fast track the project and keeping Howard on as a producer.
In March 2017, King acknowledged the series’s 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.”
The project officially kicked off filming in South Africa in April 2016.
2. The A-list stars
Elba will play Roland Deschain, also known as “Mid-World’s last gunslinger,” who is on a quest to save his decaying world by reaching the tower that stands at the nexus point in time and space.
Entertainment Weekly has released a first look at Elba in character, seen above. In an interview with the magazine, Elba described his version of Roland, saying, “There’s a mystical element to him. He’s about 200 years old. He’s been around for a long time, and has a deep-rooted connection with the [supernatural] nature of the film. Roland’s completely tuned into that. When you meet him, he’s very much a stoic man, doesn’t want to talk. But when you get to know him, he really knows quite a bit about the world and his world’s history.”
McConaughey will portray Deschain’s mystical foe, also known as the Man in Black. The character, who goes by many names, including Walter Padick or Walter O’Dim, is an ageless sorcerer who also seeks to reach the tower in order to rule over its seemingly infinite kingdoms.
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) March 1, 2016
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) March 1, 2016
EW has released another first look image seen below:
3. The supporting cast
Per Deadline, Abbey Lee, who is coming off Mad Max: Fury Road and who stars in Gods of Egypt, is expected to star in the female lead role of Tirana. The report describes the character as “sexy and dangerous” with “fake human skin and cold snake-like eyes.” In King’s original series, Tirana doesn’t show up until the seventh novel and only has a relatively small part, but it looks like she will be a key figure in the movie version.
Tom Taylor is set to play Jake Chambers, the young boy who Roland must call upon to complete his journey, and ends up being a son-like figure to him. The young actor, who previously appeared in the BBC series Doctor Foster and also showed up in the now-cancelled TNT series Legends officially nabbed the part in March, following an international search.
EW has released several first look images featuring Jake, seen above and below:
Jackie Earle Haley will reportedly portray Sayre, a menacing humanoid who is the vampire leader and kowtows to no one.
Franz Kranz will portray Pimli, the right-hand man of the Man in Black, while Michael Barbieri is slated to play Timmy, an offbeat pal of Jake’s.
Claudia Kim is expected to to play Arra Champignon, the kind-hearted, pregnant wife of Charles Champignon.
Vikings star Katheryn Winnick has also reportedly been cast in a still-unidentified role.
4. It will not follow the same order as the books
The Dark Tower film will not be primarily based on the 1982 novel The Gunslinger as initially expected. “[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 Entertainment Weekly in March.
It remains unclear which books the movie will focus on, but director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel did tell EW that “a lot of it takes place in our day, in the modern world.”
Though the film may not be an exact replica of the original series, King says that fans can expect Sony’s version of The Dark Tower to maintain the classic opening line: “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed.”
“It should start that way,” the author, who tweeted the famous line back in March, told EW. “I’ve been pretty insistent about that.”
Arcel has confirmed that the upcoming movie isn’t a straightforward adaptation, but actually a follow-up to the book. “The hardcore fans of The Dark Tower series will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way,” he said, per EW. “It has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.”
With this in mind, two major characters from the books were pulled from the big screen world: the reformed heroin junkie Eddie, and the amputee with multiple personalities, Susannah. But while Arcel felt it was important to establish the Gunslinger’s solitude before establishing his “Ka-tet,” that doesn’t mean that Eddie and Susannah won’t show up eventually. “They’re certainly out there,” Arcel says. “I think the entire story deserves to be told and should be told. I would certainly be disappointed in myself or my collaborators if we didn’t bring them in. They’re such a huge part of the story.”
5. The creative team
Nikolaj Arcel, who is best known for the 2012 Danish film A Royal Affair, is set to direct the movie. Meanwhile, Howard, Akiva Goldsman, 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.
6. What we’ve seen so far
King posted the first teaser image for The Dark Tower in May 2016, above. The photo depicted The Horn of Eld, a family heirloom of Roland Deschain that plays a key role in King’s novels. Written over the picture of the Horn is the message “Last Time Around.” King also included the intriguing caption, “Soon Roland will raise the Horn of Eld. And blow.”
— Idris Elba (@idriselba) June 19, 2016
In June 2016, Elba also took to Twitter to release some film art, seen above. “I am Roland, son of Steven, son of Henry, true descendant of Arthur. And I have not forgotten,” he wrote along with a cryptic image reading, “Remember the face of your father.”
For those unfamiliar, the “Arthur” he’s referencing is Arthur Eld, the Dark Tower universe’s take on King Arthur, whose legendary sword Excalibur was liquified to make the revolvers that Roland uses in his quest. Meanwhile, “Remember the face of your father” is a well-known expression from the series of novels that serves as condemnation for characters who behave dishonorably and a reminder to remember where they came from.
Shake the hand that shook the world pic.twitter.com/qiNNB5knZT
— Matthew McConaughey (@McConaughey) July 19, 2016
McConaughey recently took to Twitter to tease the arrival of an iconic villain in the upcoming movie. The image features an insignia that hints at the introduction Dark Tower villain, The Crimson King, alongside the words “all hail.”In the books, the character is the evil mastermind seeking end all existence in order to rule over the darkness unleashed by The Dark Tower.
— Tom Taylor (@TomTaylor1607) August 19, 2016
The Dark Tower movie is set to hit theaters on August 4, 2017.
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