Stephen King’s ‘The Dark Tower’ Sets Its Sights on a ‘Royal’ Director
For better or worse, the ambitious adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series is still alive and well and defying everyone who said that bringing this thing to the screen was impossible. In fact, producers Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and Akiva Goldsman have seemingly found a director for the first film in this western/horror/fantasy/science fiction epic and it’s ... Well, let’s just say it’s not someone you would have guessed.
According to Deadline, Danish filmmaker Nikolaj Arcel is the producers’ top pick to direct the first chapter of The Dark Tower and he’s certainly an interesting choice. A prolific screenwriter in Europe, Arcel is best known for penning the original Swedish adaptation of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and directing the Oscar-nominated A Royal Affair. With so many filmmakers, we can hear their name get attached to a project and instantly imagine what it will look like. We can’t do that with the undeniably talented Arcel, which makes him a fascinating fit for material that should defy any and all expectations. If done right, The Dark Tower will look and feel unlike anything made before, so the production might as well go after a director who won’t bring too much baggage.
The cynical read on this is that that trio of super-producers went after a filmmaker without much direct Hollywood experience because he’d be easy to micromanage. After all, Howard wanted to direct this project a few years back and Goldsman wrote the screenplay with executive producer Jeff Pinkner. These guys have a serious creative stake in this film, which is intended to spin of into an entire series and a companion television series. With seven novels worth of story, The Dark Tower could be the next big franchise, a genre-crazy concoction of awesome insanity that’s half Clint Eastwood western, half Mad Max, and half Lord of the Rings. Yes, that’s 150%, but this is a series that demand excess.
Or we could put our cynicism aside and look forward to seeing what Arcel can bring to something like this, should he actually sign onto the project. Just because Hollywood has a habit of bringing talented foreign filmmakers to massive projects and draining them of their spirits doesn’t mean this will happen here. Hopefully, this is just a group of uber-producers recognizing fresh talent and nothing more.
The other interesting detail in Deadline’s report is the reference to a “lean mean” screenplay that is primarily focused on the first novel in the series. This is interesting because The Gunslinger is very different than the later books in the series. It’s smaller, nastier and far more focused, lacking the sprawl of the subsequent chapters. It feels like a smart choice that will allow audiences to slowly understand the wild world of The Dark Tower. If they can buy what the first book is selling, they’ll be ready for what comes next.