Samuel Brace is starting to get a little concerned about The Dark Tower…
The Dark Tower adaptation currently set for release this summer seems to be in big trouble. We are months from release and there’s no trailer, the film has recently been delayed, and now reshoots are taking place. None of this looks good for this most beloved of tales. So what’s going on? Is there any chance a good movie comes out of this?
Well, it’s not looking likely. It pains me to say it, but I am incredibly fearful for this picture. Now let me preface this all saying what a big fan of the books I am. I’ve been waiting for what feels like forever for these movies to be adapted, having my hopes dashed, rescued, and then dashed again through various failed attempts at bringing the Stephen King fantasy adaptation to life.
It’s a huge undertaking to be sure. And it was never going to be easy. The series contains seven books – sorry eight (can’t get used to that) — and contains many disparate elements that are no doubt difficult to realise on screen. The books tell the story of a wild-west like gunslinger as he travels across a post apocalyptic fantasy world full of all the usual fantasy like characters. The story involves magic, horror, and the travel between parallel worlds. It’s an epic and an ambitious one at that. And this was how King envisioned it, the books were meant to be his Lord of the Rings – and for all intents and purposes he succeeded.
It turns out the film adaptation to The Dark Tower series has been just as difficult to adapt as Tolkien’s masterpiece, but now it seems like it won’t get the happy ending that Frodo’s quest received in the early 2000’s. And this saddens me greatly, this is a series that has every element, every component necessary to win hearts and create a whole new legion of fans unfamiliar to the source material. Sure, The Dark Tower is a little out there, and it’s mixture of gritty real world activities mixed with high fantasy horror might put some off, but surely there is enough there for the project to be a success. If they get things right that is.
And it looked like that they were going to get things right when this version of the adaptation finally came together. Assembling a cast of top tier actors; stars like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey that can bring in the crowds while doing great justice to the characters that they are playing. They were taking things slow, focusing on an introductory story that would bring in elements of multiple books in the series to make an accessible jumping off point for new fans. While this is a move that puzzled and upset me at first, and still worries me a little, I have grown to understand that this re-working of events, and of the timeline, might be necessary to give the film the best chance of succeeding, and ultimately allowing sequels to be made to complete Roland’s story.
The people behind the scenes, the men and women puppeteering the venture seem to be passionate about the project and know what they are doing with it. Not to go into potential spoilers but the way the books wrap up seems likely to play a big part in how these movies will be presented and framed. Essentially, all the right components seem to be in place to make this work – or at least as well as it could work. So then, why isn’t it working? Something is obviously and demonstrably wrong with The Dark Tower. But what is it?
The movie was originally meant to debut at the start of this year, only to be pushed back to this summer. This alone isn’t an overtly red flag; films get delayed all the time. It doesn’t have to be a sign of a film’s future failure. Also delaying it to the summer, a time where big movie blockbusters are affluent, seems to suggest that Sony Pictures has at least some faith in what has been created. But coupling this with the reshoots that are now taking place – however minor they may be – so close to release, and the fact that the promotion for what should be such a big event is virtually nonexistent, there exists some real red flags. It is March of 2017, the film is supposed to premiere in July, and there is still no trailer. Not even a teaser. This doesn’t look good, these optics are bad.
And optics are particularly important for movies. If you want to get bums in seats, if you want to spread the word about a project that hasn’t permeated the culture in the way that something like Harry Potter had, then you need to get the word out there. You need to build hype. People need to know that your movie is coming out and that they should be excited for it. This message of silence is not confidence inducing, and it is hampering the movies potential ability to be successful. The Dark Tower, with all the marketing in the world, could still fail. Of course it could. It could flop like no other thanks to the nature of the material, and if things don’t come off in the desired fashion, but to not even give the film a chance is puzzling. Surely, there should have been something to show fans and potential ticket buyers by now. And the fact that there isn’t only further helps to ossify my doubts.
So, assuming the film is a mess, assuming The Dark Tower isn’t looking the way the studio wants, what chance does the film have of being good? It’s hard to say and only depressing to think about. But fans of the material can’t help but think about it. The truth is we don’t know what’s going on exactly. Is it the director that’s not happy or the studio? Is there meddling going on? If so, that spells trouble. The amount of times potentially awesome movies have been hampered by studio interference is plenty. There are myriad examples of such films that could have and perhaps should have been great, only to be let down by the guys with the money. We don’t know that is the case however, perhaps the delays and reshoots are innocuous. But, and I think you’ll agree, things just don’t feel right about this movie. Perhaps one day, when it is all said and done, we will hear about any trials and tribulations. Or perhaps next week an internet breaking trailer will debut that then starts a build up of hype over the next few months culminating in a big audience for a film that deserves it.
Hmm, I don’t know, guys. We will have to wait and see, and anyone who wants this venture to succeed will have to cross fingers and just hope for the best. Because I fear at this point hope is all we have. I am not expecting a great movie; the operation of bringing the quest for The Tower to the big screen was always going to be difficult. But they do say that anything worth having doesn’t come easy. So perhaps this is what we have to endure to get the film we desire. Hopefully I am worrying for nothing. But sorry, Sony, this doesn’t look good. Confidence has not been instilled. It’s not been instilled at all.
The Dark Tower releases – maybe – on July 28th 2017.