Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ron Howard Talks Dark Tower Delay

In a brief interview with Entertainment Weekly, The Dark Tower executive producer discussed the recent delays that as pushed the start of production from September to next year. The news came out that Comcast executives were about the drop the project due to budget concerns that Howard was able to address with a smaller budget that in turn required a re-write of the script and planning.
“We had to pull back to our September start date due to budget delays and ongoing story development and logistical issues, but Dark Tower is moving forward,” Howard said. “We’re thinking of starting in early spring now. I can’t really say who’ll be in it yet, but Javier Bardem has shown a great deal of interest. We’ll know by the end of the summer, when our flashing green light goes solid.” The project would start with a feature film, followed by six hours of TV content, starring the same actors as in the movie. “There are elements of the Dark Tower saga that are more personal and can be best dealt with on television,” Howard continued. “TV allows you to roll out details of the characters in a more methodical way.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Dark Tower Lives But Delayed

It seems The Dark Tower trilogy and TV series will live again. Last week the franchise was on verge of being put in "turnaround" (aka killed) due to Comcast's (owner of Universal Studios) concerns on the cost of the production. It seems that another studio would have to step up to defray the costs before production could move forward.

The Hollywood Reporters now says that the production will stay at Universal but at a lower cost. The budget must have taken a fairly massive hit as THR says "Insiders say the end result is that Goldsman is now rewriting the script to reflect a lower price point. No start date has been given although it will certainly not be the fall."

According to Deadline, the new start date has changed from summer to February. A wrinkle has also been introduced as "Universal has its own ticking clock: It must greenlight the film by July, or the rights revert back to the author and the filmmakers."

It will probably take awhile to determine the repercussions but essentially it means the movie that was well on its way into the pre-production process is now back at square one for a film. The lesson remains that big budget projects (or really anything potentially risky) do not belong with anything that Comcast owns and creators would be advised to avoid them as production partners whenever possible.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Norma Reedus Joining the Dark Tower?

Despite the possibility of The Dark Tower going into turnaround, it does seem that casting was in full swing (at least until this weekend) as a new casting rumor has popped up. The IMDB page for Norman Reedus (Walking Dead) has him listed as "Eddie Dean" a major character from the book series. Now normally IMDB is notoriously wrong about information on films while they are in pre-production since it is user generated content but in this case his response of "no comment" to MTV indicates that he at least auditioned for the role. Sadly the news doesn't really matter until another studio steps up to relieve Comcast of the financial burden of making the films.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Universal Dropping The Dark Tower? (Updated)

After years of hope, fan of The Dark Tower were very happy when Universal announced their intention to release a trilogy of films and two TV shows about the epic novel. According to Variety, now it seems the studio executives reconsidering the idea due to "budgetary complications" (aka too expensive). The studio is meeting soon to make and decision and in the meantime pre-production will continue. Reading between the lines it seems that Universal is willing to make the film, they just don't want to take on the financial risk by themselves and are hoping another studio will step up to share the burden. This isn't new as many films have had their cost (and profits) shared by studio with The Hobbit being a recent example with MGM and Warner Bros sharing those costs.

Update: Outlook for the Dark Tower movies is starting to look grim. Deadline is reporting that "Universal Pictures has put pre-production staff on hiatus" indicating that they do not want to spend any more money on a production they are no longer committed to. The Hollywood Reporter provided a little more information but it does little to offer hope.
Imagine President Michael Rosenberg, however, vehemently denies that the project has been shelved. "Dark Tower is not in turnaround," Rosenberg tells THR, adding "there are issues and on-going budget discussions with almost every film in development." A Universal spokesperson declined to comment. Two sources close to the project say that Comcast executives have heavily scrutinized the plan, mainly due to budgetary concerns. The sources also say that the final portion of the project has been found creatively lacking.
To be blunt, I think the Dark Tower project is in deep trouble. The recent acquisition of Universal by Comcast is the likely cause. As anyone that uses Comcast's services or watched their pre-Universal purchase channels like G4 and Versus knows the corporation likes to run things as lean and cheap as possible even if that means sacrificing quality in the process. Committing $500 million or more to at least a five year project goes against Comcast's very core of how they operate. This doesn't even take in account the risk and The Dark Tower series is very risky as it is mostly a character story with very little action.

Imagine Entertainment is probably in overdrive trying to shore up the financing to either move the project to another studio or provide Comcast a partner so they will stick with the production. THR indicates that Sony and Warner Bros are at somewhat interested. If another studio doesn't bite, then the Dark Tower is dead. Between this and the ending of "Mountains of Madness from Guillermo del Toro, it seems that if you are seeking to make big $100 million plus movie or really anything that sniffs of risk, Universal is at the bottom of the list on the studio to bring it to.