The Dark Tower TV show

“The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” So begins author Stephen King’s magnum opus The Dark Tower, a multi-novel series that took King three decades to complete. How long the story will take to unfold across film and television screens has a lot to do with how well the first film performs when it lands in theaters this week, and now there’s some good news for long-time fans who may not be thrilled with the liberties the movie is taking with King’s novels.

In a new interview, director Nikolaj Arcel spoke about the planned The Dark Tower TV show that will theoretically air in between movies, and he revealed that the show – if it happens – will be “totally canon” and hew much closer to the source material than the film.

In a conversation with Indiewire, Arcel revealed his involvement with the TV show, which Sony Pictures and Media Rights Capital will produce if the film meets financial expectations.

“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.

We’re going back in the past. It’s very, very closely adhering to the ‘Wizard and Glass’ novel and parts of ‘The Gunslinger’ novel. That was exciting to be even more like, ‘Okay, now we’re going to be able to even lift lines directly, or like [write] characters exactly as they are.’ Which, as a fan, was exciting in a different way.”

The Dark Tower movie is far more complicated than just a straightforward adaptation of the first book: it incorporates elements from multiple books across the series and also serves as a canonical sequel to King’s stories. (You can read all about that here.) Plus, it has to introduce his fantasy world to general audiences who haven’t read the books, so a lot is riding on this.

If it’s successful, it sounds like we’ll be seeing the plot of Wizard and Glass – the fourth book in the saga on the small screen. The story is a prequel that reveals how gunslinger Roland Deschain (Idris Elba) earned his guns – play out on the small screen, with Elba reprising his role and a fourteen-year-old Roland (yet to be cast) shouldering a good amount of the action. (That story also appeared in the pages of the Marvel comics adaptation of The Dark Tower, should anyone be interested in checking that out.)

Indiewire says actor Tom Taylor, who plays The Dark Tower’s young Jake Chambers, is expected to appear in the series, but Matthew McConaughey‘s involvement remains unclear. In the movie, McConaughey plays Walter, aka the Man in Black, an evil being who butts heads with Roland while attempting to destroy the Dark Tower. We know McConaughey’s not opposed to working on television – he and Woody Harrelson arguably kicked off the modern trend of major movie stars working on television with the first season of True Detective. But if The Dark Tower bombs, we probably won’t have to think about any of this, so I suppose we’ll just wait and see how the movie does and see how Sony and MRC choose to move forward. If things go well, they’re expected to finance a 10-13 episode first season.

After a long road to the big screen, The Dark Tower finally opens in theaters this Friday.

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