If you haven’t heard, Stephen King’s epic fantasy series The Dark Tower, is officially getting a movie adaption, due out January 17, 2017. Idris Elba has been cast as Roland and Matthew McConaughy will be the man in black.
I’m a little concerned; epic fantasy movies-and shows- don’t have a good track record. I would like to see more serious attempts- the TV movie made to hold onto the Wheel of Time rights doesn’t count– but I understand why studios aren’t doing so. The Inheritance Cycle books sold well but the absolute butchery that was the movie Eragon put an end to any further movies from that franchise. It didn’t do the genre any favors either- the Lord of the Rings was the only epic fantasy franchise that had been adapted to movies for a long time. If both the upcoming Warcraft movie and The Dark Tower are flops it could put an end to epic fantasy movies in the near future. Game of Thrones is doing well but I feel like the stakes are high for The Dark Tower, for me as least. I want to see a Mistborn movie eventually so I’m rooting for things to go well but this will be a difficult adaptation. The special effects requirements won’t be as high as for some series since magic in The Dark Tower tends to be subtle, and there are no real mass battle scenes; but the series is far more surreal than either Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones, most notably when Roland pays Stephen King a visit in Maine.
Roland was white in the books, and some of the people in the reddit thread are not happy about the switch to a black lead. While Roland’s ethnicity was a plot point in some of the books I’m supportive of the move, because Mr. Elba seems like he has the gravitas to pull it off and a lot of material is going to have to be cut to make this manageable as a movie series, especially since there is no current news on the hybrid movie and TV show format that was floated last year. The Dark Tower is literally three times longer than the Lord of the Rings, which only fit into three movies by cutting material. Harry Potter got away with eight movies but its much more of a cultural touchstone than The Dark Tower. The racial tension between Roland and Detta is probably a good cut to make to get the film to a wider audience.
I think making a good movie is more important than being true to the source material, and certainly better than doing neither as in the case of Eragon, and I hope the movie does what it needs to succeed, including taking more time- the January 2017 release date seems either optimistic or sabotage. Overall I’m cautiously optimistic.
TL,DR: This could be a very good movie or a huge disappointment- fingers crossed- but its finally happening. Hopefully a good showing will encourage more movie adaptations of epic fantasy.