‘Dark Tower’ and Other Stephen King No-Go’s


Blending the mythic American Old West with magical paradoxes strewn from various world annals, Stephen King’s magnum opus “The Dark Tower” seemed like the grand tiara of all upcoming studio franchises. Sadly the adaptation has bluntly been given a downturn by Universal Pictures after analysis of the budget numbers and marketing difficulties. Ron Howard (“A Beautiful Mind,” “Frost/Nixon”) propositioned a $200 million production on the first installment of a proposed trilogy to cover King’s seven books, but even with Javier Bardem (“No Country for Old Men”) in the lead as Roland the Gunslinger, the investment for the studio was too big a risk. In fanboy speak, the project was too “Dune” and not enough “Harry Potter.” The project still has a chance if Howard and co-partner Brian Grazer take their Imagine company rights and shop it somewhere else. While there must be thirty King book to film adaptations to date, a number of other notable items in the esteemed author’s repertoire have fluctuated in film limbo too in the recent past.

Observe the books and their original publishing dates:

The Stand (1978) – Armageddon byway of contagious diseases wipes out nearly the world population, with Randall Flagg as the prevailing figure of evil. Although it has gone through the mills of a fairly good TV mini-series adaptation before, King’s masterpiece deserves a big-screen epic. David Yates of the last “Harry Potter” movies is currently in negotiations with Warner Bros. to direct.


The Long Walk (1979) – One hundred teens volunteer for an excruciating, and deadly, annual national contest in a future totalitarian America. No stops or rest periods, a contestant has to walk ’til he drops. The one prevailing winner gets anything he wants for the rest of his life. Frank Darabont (“The Shawshank Redemption”) reserved the rights himself and says he will “get to it one day.” Well, between this and Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” let’s hope he gets to at least one of them sooner than later.

 It (1986) – Pennywise the killer clown is really a morphing predator that targets children in the town of Derry, Maine. Years later, the survivors once overcoming childhood trauma hatch a plan to defeat it. We saw in 1990 a respectable TV mini-series with Tim Curry, Harry Anderson, John Ritter and Annette O’Toole. Warner Bros. in March 2009 announced a big screen adaptation but all that’s come of it is a couple of script drafts which have at least been said by executives that it looks promising. 

The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999) – An unassuming little girl gets lost in the Appalachian Mountains and is wrongfully pronounced by the press as kidnapped by a child molester, in this riveting and underrated King work. With no search party administered in the wild, she goes further and further on her own into the untraveled domain of the Canadian border. George Romero (“Night of the Living Dead”) optioned the rights but investors backed down. It doesn’t help that you need a talented 9-year old girl to carry the movie.


From a Buick 8 (2002) – The supernatural-possessed car tantalizes a small outpost police station for decades, from time to time the trunk opens a portal that invites strange things in from another dimension. Tobe Hooper (the original “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” “Salem’s Lot”) had plans to direct but his efforts stalled years ago.


Cell (2006) – The first 80 pages, to me, elevate the excitement in the zombie genre. Those pages also caught fever with Eli Roth (“Cabin Fever,” “Hostel”) whom in press interviews raged on how he was going to recreate definitive passages directly to screen with King description intact. Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, whom wrote “Ed Wood” and “1408,” punched out a first draft. As soon as Roth’s 2007 “Hostel: Part II” tanked at the box office all interest on this project flushed out from underneath with not much else said about it since.

Under the Dome (2009) – This long-gestated idea began in a treatment written in the 1970’s and then, much later, inspired the scenario for “The Simpsons Movie” before finding a creative resurrection of its own. At 1,074 pages, in completion, it became King’s largest literary behemoth since “The Stand.”  An unknown impregnable yet transparent shield encases an entire town, locking in all its residents who rapidly lose composure and civility. While a big-screen treatment was originally discussed, Steven Spielberg and King are actively teaming up instead for a TV mini-series. I would have suggested that Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “127 Hours”) or Paul Greengrass (“United 93,” “The Bourne Ultimatum”) could have made something exceptionally big-screen out of this.

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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