With the huge success of television series such as Game of Thrones, Westworld, Breaking Bad, Stranger Things and The Walking Dead, it’s no wonder that film producers are trying to cross over from traditional cinema to the small screen.
This shift in direction could arguably be attributed to the emergence of at-home, on-demand viewing and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Starz Play, which give viewers easy access to a range of programmes from their electronic devices.
For filmmakers, the TV platform offers plenty of wiggle room to play with storylines and allow the plot to grow organically, something that a full-length movie can’t offer due to time restrictions.
As a result, producers and directors have become more ambitious in taking on stories that were previously deemed ‘unfit’ for cinema, particularly book series with long, epic narratives like Game of Thrones.
Now, the upcoming dark fantasy, sci-fi film, The Dark Tower, is adding another element as it aims to tackle both worlds, starting this week on the big screen, and later taking its saga to TV viewers.
An adaptation of the book series penned by Stephen King, the movie follows the tale of the Last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Idris Elba), and his endless battle against Walter O’ Dim (Matthew McConaughey), aka the Man in Black. Roland’s mission is to prevent his rival from toppling the Dark Tower, a fabled building that holds the world together.
It’s the classic good versus evil story but told in a fascinating backdrop revolving around
spaghetti Western action, horror and futuristic dystopian elements.
Taking on the novel for screen adaptation was understandably tricky considering the complex evolution of the story. King originally published five short stories before turning them into a single novel, The Gunslinger (1982). He eventually followed it up with six more novels, releasing them sporadically between 1987 and 2004.
The movie reportedly covers the first three books of the series while the planned TV series will take on the fourth instalment.
Akiva Goldsman, the film’s co-writer and producer, explained: “In the movie, Roland is suffering tremendous loss. The most concrete, personal, existential heartbreak a character can have. If the movie chronicles his final reach toward hope again, the TV show is the loss of that hope.”
Given the convoluted plotlines and the fact that King’s work appears in a series of books and not as one concrete novel, it makes sense to spread the thriller out into multiple films and TV shows, not just to maximise financial gains from the franchise but to tell the whole story as envisioned by its author.
“All of that isn’t just [to make money], but to be as comprehensive as possible,” reasoned producer Ron Howard. “The idea of doing part of it on the big screen and part of it on television is to try to include absolutely as much of the books, and even the graphic novels, as possible.”
Also starring: Katheryn Winnick, Tom Taylor, Dennis Haysbert and Claudia Kim
Director: Nikolaj Arcel
Running time: 100 mins
WORDS Ferdinand Godinez