The Dark Tower (2017 film)

For other films of similar names, see The Dark Tower.
The Dark Tower
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on The Dark Tower
by Stephen King
Music by Junkie XL
Cinematography Rasmus Videbæk
Edited by Alan Edward Bell
Distributed by


Release dates
  • July 28, 2017 (2017-07-28) (United States)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $60 million[3]

The Dark Tower is an upcoming 2017 American science fantasy western horror film directed and co-written by Nikolaj Arcel, based on the series of novels of the same name by Stephen King. The film is a quasi-sequel to the The Dark Tower book series, following the ending of The Dark Tower VII: The Dark Tower. [4][5]

The film has been stated that it won't be a typical adaptation, but more of a new take on the series. Additionally, King has tweeted a photo of the Horn of Eld with the caption "Last Time Around", which is related to a scene from the end of the final book and Arcel said that fans will know the movie is a sequel to the book series.[6] The film is set to be released on July 28, 2017.[7]


Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is young 11-year-old adventure seeker who discovers clues about another dimension called Mid-World. Upon following the mystery, he is spirited away to the land Mid-World where he encounters the lone frontiersman knight Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) who is on a quest to reach the "Dark Tower" that resides in End-World and reach the nexus point between time and space that he hopes will save Mid-World from extinction. But with various monsters and a vicious sorcerer (Matthew McConaughey) hot on their tail, the unlikely duo find that their quest may be difficult to complete.


A frontiersman knight whose primary weapon is not a sword but a pair of revolvers.[1] On the choice of Elba, director and co-writer Nikolaj Arcel stated, "For me, it just clicked. He's such a formidable man." He added that he's been an admirer of Elba's since The Wire.[1] Arcel then stated, "I had to go to Idris and tell him my vision for the entire journey with Roland and the ka-tet. We discussed, who is this character? What's he about? What's his quest? What's his psychology? We tried to figure out if we saw the same guy. And we absolutely had all the same ideas and thoughts. He had a unique vision for who Roland would be."[1] Stephen King himself spoke highly of Elba, stating: "I love it. I think he’s a terrific actor, one of the best working in the business now."[1] On the character of Roland, King noted: "For me the character is still the character. It's almost a Sergio Leone character, like the Man with No Name, while remarking, "He can be white or black, it makes no difference to me. I think it opens all kind of exciting possibilities for the backstory."[1]
An ageless deceiver and sorcerer who also seeks to reach the tower and rule over its seemingly infinite kingdoms.[1] On the choice of McConaughey, Arcel stated, "Matthew is an incredible actor who can do anything. That's how I feel about [Walter]. He could do anything."[1] About the character of Padick, Arcel added, "He is this timeless sorcerer, and being a Stephen King fan, I've read and experienced Walter in various iterations"; Arcel making references to The Stand and The Eyes of the Dragon.[1] "He has a very interesting way of seeing the world. He sees it with a sort of delight, even though he is obviously on the wrong side of the light-and-dark spectrum. He's someone I've been having a lot of fun with."[1] King makes mention of him never having a clear image of the character's face, to which he explained: "I never really thought of him. But [in the movie] he becomes a character who isn't just a mirage that Roland is chasing. The way things are set up, he's right there."[1]
A young boy who Roland must call upon to complete his journey, and a son-like figure to Deschain.[1][2][8] Taylor won the role after an international search to find the young actor who would serve as the protege of Deschain.[2]

Development history

The Dark Tower's protagonist Roland as depicted in the opening credits of another Stephen King adaptation, The Mist (2007)

The project has been ongoing since 2007 with periodical reports and official announcements, but nothing has materialized as of yet. To date, the proposed film adaptation has gone through three major phases of planning: initially with J. J. Abrams from 2007 to 2009, then with Ron Howard from 2010 to 2015, and currently with Arcel with Howard remaining in a producing role.

J. J. Abrams (2007–09)

IGN Movies first reported in early February 2007 that a film adaptation of The Dark Tower series was in the works. J. J. Abrams, co-creator of the television series Lost, was supposedly attached to produce and direct. Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, who co-created Lost with Abrams, optioned The Dark Tower from King for a reported amount of nineteen dollars, a number that mysteriously recurs throughout the series.[13] According to issue #923 of Entertainment Weekly, King "is an ardent supporter of [Lost] and trusts Abrams to translate his vision" into a film franchise with Lindelof being "the leading candidate to write the screenplay for the first installment."[14] It was around this same time that Marvel Comics launched their graphic novel adaptation of The Dark Tower with The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born. Later, in March 2007, Abrams noted in an interview with Wired that the project is "something that we are just now talking about with Stephen, so it's too early for me to say that we're even officially doing it yet just because the thing is in the early stages of discussion."[15]

A year later, in February 2008, Abrams reiterated that The Dark Tower adaptation was in the early stages of development, when interviewed by Reelz Channel.[16] When interviewed by AMC in September 2008, Abrams admitted that the project needs time he does not have because of Lost, especially since he would like to see a seven-film series (the eighth novel would be published in 2012). However, in May 2009, Abrams stated to IGN that he and Lindelof were planning on beginning work on The Dark Tower as soon as Lost finished its run.[17] Speaking to MTV News around the same time, Lindelof revealed some apprehension regarding the project, noting that his "reverence for Stephen King is now getting in the way of what any good writer would do first when they're adapting a book, which is take creative license."[18] In a July 2009 interview with C21 Media, Lindelof revealed that he and Cuse had indeed optioned the rights for The Dark Tower, but said he was wary about committing to such an ambitious project: "The idea of taking on something that massive again after having done six seasons of Lost is intimidating and slightly frightening, to say the least."[19]

With these reservations being voiced by the producers, this initial phase of the project came to an end at the end of 2009 after three years, since this was a three-year option. In an interview with USA Today in October 2009, Damon Lindelof stated: "You'll be hard-pressed to find a huger fan of The Dark Tower than me, but that's probably the reason that I shouldn't be the one to adapt it. After working six years on Lost, the last thing I want to do is spend the next seven years adapting one of my favorite books of all time. I'm such a massive Stephen King fan that I'm terrified of screwing it up. I'd do anything to see those movies written by someone else. My guess is they will get made because they're so incredible. But not by me."[20] Finally, in November 2009, Abrams stated that he would not be adapting the series. During an interview with MTV News, Abrams made the following comments: "The Dark Tower thing is tricky. The truth is that Damon and I are not looking at that right now."[21]

Ron Howard (2010–15)

In April 2010, five months after Abrams had revealed that he would no longer pursue his adaptation of The Dark Tower, reported that Universal Pictures will be bringing the series to both the big and the small screens via a trilogy of feature films alternating with two seasons of a television series to bridge gaps between the films. The involved parties included Akiva Goldsman writing the script, Ron Howard directing and producing, along with Brian Grazer and Stephen King.[22] The report was made official by NBC Universal five months later via a press release dated September 8, 2010.[23] In an interview with Entertainment Weekly following the announcement, King stated that "I always thought it would take more than a single movie, but I didn't see this solution coming—i.e., several movies and TV series. It was Ron [Howard] and Akiva [Goldsman]'s idea. Once it was raised, I thought at once it was the solution."[24] A month later, in October 2010, it was reported that the first Dark Tower film would open on May 17, 2013.[25] In December 2010, Howard offered the following in regards to the project's progress: "It is going well, and it has been incredibly stimulating to work on. I really can't stop thinking about it. We've been meeting and talking and I've been reading and researching and just kind of living with it. I hope it goes great. I hope it goes the way we think it will. It never does, really. But sometimes it goes better." Despite Howard's enthusiasm, Universal had not greenlit the project yet at that point.[26][27]

By the end of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, New York Post was reporting that Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen were in line to play the lead character of Roland Deschain, and Naomie Harris was being considered for the character of Susannah Dean.[28][29] Speaking on The Howard Stern Show in January 2011 and qualifying his words with the phrase "I don't know if it's going to happen or not", Howard said that after the first film, which would be more action-oriented, a six-episode television miniseries would follow, focusing more on character-driven drama.[30] For his part, Brian Grazer stated around the same time that a casting announcement could be made "within a week."[31] As reported by Deadline on January 26, 2011, Javier Bardem was officially offered the role of Roland, though no official negotiations had yet taken place.[32] Grazer stated in March 2011 that Bardem "really wants to do it."[33]

In April 2011, it was reported that Mark Verheiden (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica) was joining the television portion of the project as executive producer and Akiva Goldsman's co-writer. The same month it was officially announced that Javier Bardem was cast in the role of Roland.[34] However, just a month later, a report in Variety revealed that Universal may seek another studio's help, as the project's budget appeared to be more than they were willing to handle.[35] Hollywood Reporter wrote later that the project was on the verge of turnaround, and Warner Bros. or Columbia Pictures could potentially take the project on, revealing that Universal had paid $5 million for the rights.[36] Shortly after that, Universal committed to a lower budget for the project and Goldsman began rewriting the script to reflect these changes.[37]

Originally, production was slated to begin in September 2011, but in May 2011 it was being pushed back to February 2012 or early spring. The project was still not yet greenlit by the studio, which had to happen by July 2011.[38][39] Then on July 18, 2011, Universal decided to cancel development of the entire project due to budgetary concerns.[40] Despite this, Stephen King was confident Howard would see the project through, stating that he was "sorry Universal passed, but not really surprised. I bear them no ill will, and trust Ron Howard to get Roland and his friends before the camera somewhere else. He's very committed to the project."[41] In August 2011, Howard stated that they were "trying to get outside financing to make it, and distribute it through a major [studio]", including the fact that Netflix might be an outlet.[42] Later, in October 2011, Howard confirmed the adaptation is still on track, noting that HBO would now carry the television portion of the project.[43]

By March 2012, it was being reported that Warner was interested in taking on the project.[44] Several months later Goldsman delivered a new script for the first film to Warners, and the studio had to make a decision in August 2012 whether to go ahead with the project. As well, Russell Crowe was being talked about as the lead character.[45] On August 20, 2012, Warner Bros. officially passed.[46] At the same time, Media Rights Capital (MRC) was reported to be in talks to take over the project from Warner.[47] In May 2013 it was reported that "a Silicon Valley investor" was interested in financing the project as it was originally envisioned.[48]

In January 2014, Aaron Paul stated that he had a conversation with Howard and was possibly being considered to play Eddie Dean (earlier, in October 2012, Paul had tweeted that the role of Eddie Dean was a "huge dream" of his).[49][50] Following that, a rumor appeared that Liam Neeson was interested in the part of Roland.[51]

Nikolaj Arcel (2015–present)

On April 10, 2015, it was announced that Sony Pictures Entertainment with MRC were fast-tracking the project, now with a completely reworked script by Goldsman and Jeff Pinkner. King appeared optimistic, saying: "I'm excited that The Dark Tower is finally going to appear on the screen." Howard appeared to be out as director, but would remain in a producing capacity.[52] On June 2, 2015, reported that Sony was looking to Nikolaj Arcel to direct.[53] Arcel officially signed on July 10, 2015. He and Anders Thomas Jensen are to rewrite the script.[54] On August 5, 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment set the film for a release of January 13, 2017.[55] In November 2015, Variety reported that Matthew McConaughey had been offered the role of the Man in Black (also known as Randall Flagg from The Stand, another role McConaughey had been offered in an upcoming adaptation).[56] In January 2016, it was officially announced that Idris Elba has been cast to play Roland Deschain.[57]

On February 18, 2016, Deadline reported that Abbey Lee had apparently been offered the female lead role of Tirana.[58] On March 1, 2016, Entertainment Weekly confirmed the casting of Idris Elba as Roland and Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black, with shooting set to begin in South Africa in April.[1] On March 5, Sony announced that the film would be moving back on the schedule from January 13 to February 17.[7] On March 10, 2016, Variety reported that young actor Tom Taylor is cast as Jake Chambers.[2] Filming began on April 12, 2016.[59][60][61] Abbey Lee, Jackie Earle Haley, Fran Kranz and Tom Taylor were added to the cast when filming commenced while Katheryn Winnick and Michael Barbieri joined the film at the end of April 2016 and Claudia Kim was cast as Arra Champignon in May 2016.[62][63][64][65][66]


The Dark Tower began filming in South Africa in April 2016.[67] The film also shot scenes in New York.[68]

The efforts to adapt The Dark Tower series for the screen have been ongoing since 2007, when the project was originally being assigned to Warner Bros. and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[69] Unfortunately, the project was later shelved, before the rights were transitioned to a different production company.The project has experienced starts and stops with various filmmakers and studios at different times, including Universal Films, Paramount, and Lionsgate Entertainment. The current iteration, announced in March 2015, is produced by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Media Rights Capital.


The film was scheduled to be released on February 17, 2017. In November 2016, the film was pushed back to July 28, 2017 to fill the release date for the Jumanji reboot.


While a trailer is slated to be released for the 2016 holiday season,[70] an unfinished rough cut of the first trailer leaked online on October 10, 2016.[71]

Follow-up TV series

In September 2016, Entertainment Weekly reported that following the release of the film, a TV series set within the same continuity is scheduled to be released in 2018. Both Elba and Taylor are set to reprise their roles as Roland and Chambers respectively. Reportedly the series will potentially fill in the backstory to the film, being based on King's The Dark Tower IV: Wizard and Glass, and star a younger actor playing a young Roland.[72]


  1. In the Entertainment Weekly article, Nikolaj Arcel refers to Matthew McConaughey as Walter Padick; not Flagg, the Man in Black, or o'Dim.


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External links

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