the dark tower tv series

The rumored Dark Tower TV series is still “very much alive” at Amazon, according to Amazon Studios President Jennifer Salke. Can the TV adaptation of Stephen King‘s massive fantasy series succeed where the movie failed?

Last year, a big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s sprawling, complicated fantasy series The Dark Tower hit theaters. It was a disaster. The film jettisoned almost all of King’s rich mythology and instead opted for a dull, generic action movie storyline. Not even the inherent charisma of Idris Elba, or a scene where Matthew McConaughey cooks some chicken, could save the film. Despite the Dark Tower movie misfire, rumors of a Dark Tower TV series have persisted. Earlier this year, word came that the show had landed at Amazon – although Amazon declined to confirm that. Until now.

In a new interview with Deadline, Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke finally acknowledged the Dark Tower TV series was in the works. Salke said she’ll be looking at scripts for the Dark Tower TV series in “the coming weeks” and that the project is “very much alive” at Amazon. This is good news for Dark Tower fans – provided Amazon doesn’t make the same mistakes as the film adaption. Here are some steps Amazon can take to avoid screwing up The Dark Tower.

idris elba dark tower series

Jettison All Copies of the Movie Into Space

The most important thing the Dark Tower TV series can do is completely ignore the Dark Tower movie. In the past, Dark Tower movie director Nikolaj Arcel revealed he co-wrote of the pilot episode for the Dark Tower series, and claimed the series would serve as a prequel to the film:

“It’s being written. I was part of writing the pilot, like the first season ideas and the pilot and the second episode. It’s gonna be awesome. What was exciting about that, whereas with the film, we were really trying to create an introduction and make a standalone film that could sort of live in itself, but what was also exciting, working on the TV show at the same time, is that is totally canon.”

Note to Amazon: don’t do this. Keep Arcel far away from the material, for the love of the Crimson King. The Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara was previously announced as a possible showrunner, and if that’s true, I hope Mazzara is forging ahead with something completely removed from the Dark Tower movie. It’s best to forget the movie even happened. That said, if the Dark Tower series wanted to bring Idris Elba back as Roland the Gunslinger, I wouldn’t complain – as long as they ignore everything else.

dark tower train

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Weird 

King’s Dark Tower books are unapologetically weird. Robot bearsraccoon-dog hybrids, talking lobster monsters, alternate reality versions of Jesus, singing roses – there’s a ton of far-out shit happening in the books, and King presents most of it in matter-of-fact ways. The Dark Tower TV show shouldn’t be afraid to lean into all the weirdness. Don’t fret about audiences not “getting it” – just embrace the strange otherworldly elements of King’s novel, and trust that audiences will go along with it all. The show will be more rewarding as a result.

books

Stay True To The Books

This ties into the above suggestion: don’t be afraid of the source material. The Dark Tower movie streamlined a ton of King’s rich, complex mythology and storytelling. I get why they did that – you only have so much time in a film to tell a story. But with a TV series, you have a lot more room to breathe. You can stretch King’s storylines over entire episodes. You could even break each individual book into seasons – season 1 focuses on the first book in the series, season 2 on the second, and so on. Will it be slightly confusing to the uninitiated at first? Maybe! But that’s okay! HBO’s Game of Thrones has proven that you can adapt elaborate mythologies and still draw in a general audience. There’s no reason the Dark Tower series can’t do the same.

Dark Tower movie

Appeal to Adults 

When asked about the failure of the Dark Tower movie, Stephen King suggested that watering down his very-adult subject matter might have turned some people off:

The real problem, as far as I’m concerned is, they went in to this movie and I think this was a studio edict, pretty much, this is going to be a PG-13 movie. It’s going to be a tentpole movie. We want to make sure that we get people in there from the ages of, let’s say, 12 right on up to whatever the target age is. Let’s say 12 to 35. That’s what we want. So it has to be PG-13 and when they did that, I think that they lost a lot of the toughness of it and it became something where people went to it and said, Well yeah, but it’s really not anything that we haven’t seen before.

Again, I understand why the movie adaptation went this route: they wanted to draw in as much of an audience as possible, and the theory holds that a PG-13 movie is more likely to appeal to a general audience than a R-rated flick. But now that the adaptation is heading to TV, it’s okay to embrace the R-rated nature of King’s material. Again, look at Game of Thrones – HBO’s adaptation didn’t hesitate to appeal to an adult audience, and reaped the rewards as a result.

Dark Tower TV series could end up being Amazon’s answer to Game of Thrones. Here’s hoping they don’t blow it.

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