Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dark Tower Heading to HBO?

The Dark Tower producer Brian Grazer has provided an update on the television side of their Dark Tower adaptation. The previous update indicated that they had cut the budget on the first film and provided a more appealing ending, suggesting they were not sure they could get the entire trilogy made. I went so far as to predict the television aspect was going to get dropped. It seems I was a bit premature as Glazer tells MTV that HBO has expressed interested in the television shows.
"We're going to do ['The Dark Tower'] with HBO," Grazer told us. "We'll do the TV with HBO, and we'll do the movie with… to be determined. We'll do it right." HBO has not confirmed this and until the movie aspect is handled, I doubt any agreement has been signed.
This could be good news on multiple fronts. HBO is owned by Warner Bros so this provides a studio that may at minimum provide distribution for the film but could step up and finance the film. It also means the television show will not be dumbed down for mass audience consumption but can retain a prestige (and violence) that has shown to be effective in The Walking Dead on AMC . Still a ways to go but things are moving forward at least.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Budget Cuts, New Ending Might Save The Dark Tower

Several months ago Comcast executives made the decision that Universal would no longer produce The Dark Tower movies and TV series after the costs were deemed too high. The decision was part of a collective series of decisions rolled out over months for all Comcast properties to scale down their budget to levels that the historically tight company find more acceptable. Decisions that will continue as Universal shifts from high budget films to smaller fair while non-reality TV series on NBC, SyFy, USA, etc discover shortened shelf lives with cancellation based on when actor contracts expire (due to corresponding rise in operating costs with renewals, see Eureka as example) rather than how well they are doing in ratings or return on investment.

It is because of this it might actually be good news that Universal took a pass on the series. Especially now that The Dark Tower producing team of Brian Grazer and Ron Howard with writer Akiva Goldsman might have come up with a cheaper draft that costs around $100 million while improving on the ending, according to an interview with Grazer to The Playlist.
“We found a way to cut out $45 million out of the budget without changing the scope and actually giving it a good ending,” Grazer said, suggesting a heavily re-worked approach. “In the $140 million draft, the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying. Now, we’ve got $45 million, $50 million out of the way and a really satisfying ending. It’s gonna get made.”
The decrease in cost might be an effort to get Comcast to bite again or make it easier to get outside financing for making the film. It remains unclear if the team has retained their ambitious plans of a movie, TV series, 2nd movie, TV series, final movie. I suspect the effort will be to make just one movie (thus push for "more satisfying ending") and its success will dictate if the trilogy will be completed. The accompanying TV series will probably be eventually abandoned regardless if the movie does well or not.

In short, there is hope for fans but don't get too excited. Movement on The Dark Tower will probably remain slow for at least another year, assuming it even moves past the script stage.