While plenty of books get adapted for film and TV, sometimes you have to wonder whether some of them just don’t work if you take the action off the page. Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series feels like one of them, thanks to several years of development hell and one (rather poor) big screen outing. But someone’s going to try and give it another shot anyway.
Rights for the series have now been picked up by director Mike Flannagan and producer Trevor Macy for their production company Intrepid Pictures. The duo are well known for Netflix shows like The Midnight Club and The Haunting of Hill House, and have previously adapted King’s Doctor Sleep and Gerald’s Game for the big screen.
Flannagan claims his “very detailed outline” won him the rights, which were granted by King himself. That includes a five-season TV series followed by two stand-alone features. A pilot episode has apparently been written, though it’s unclear where the prospective series may be available.
Intrepid Pictures recently signed a deal with Amazon Prime Video, moving from Netflix, but that doesn’t guarantee Amazon will get The Dark Tower — a property the company has already attempted to adapt a few years back.
“Predating our deal with Amazon, we acquired the rights to ‘The Dark Tower,’ which if you know anything about me, you know it has been my Holy Grail of a project for most of my life,” Flanagan said in an interview with Deadline. “We actually have those rights carved out of our Amazon deal, which doesn’t mean that they can’t or won’t get behind it at some point — you don’t know. But that’s something we’ve been developing ourselves and are really passionate about finally getting it up on its feet at some point.”
Amazon’s previous attempt to adapt King’s seven-story epic was canceled back in 2020. Originally intended as a seven-season story, Amazon canceled plans after filming a pilot — for reasons that haven't been divulged. However, Glen Mazzara, showrunner for the now-canceled series, admitted that The Dark Tower is a complicated story that makes it difficult to adapt.
That required a big commitment from Amazon, plus a lot of potential risk; especially after the 2017 Dark Tower movie, starring Idris Elba, proved to be a critical and commercial disappointment. You also have to remember Amazon had already invested hundreds of millions for the right to make Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. So you can see why it wouldn’t want another costly fantasy epic on the books.
Previous attempts to adapt the series included a movie version from JJ Abrams around 2007, and a series of movies and TV shows from Ron Howard slated to begin production in 2011. However, various issues behind the scenes prevented these projects from coming to fruition. While there were plans to spin-off from the Elba-led movie, they died off after the film's disappointing performance.
Perhaps Flannagan and Macy can have better luck giving The Dark Tower an adaptation that manages to be faithful to the novels and engaging enough to appeal to audiences and not get canceled mid-way through its run. That's all too common with streaming, especially over at the likes of Netflix.
There’s no word on when The Dark Tower series will debut, if it ever manages to get off the ground, so we’ll just have to be patient.
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