‘The Dark Tower’: Clashing Visions, Brutal Test Screenings Plagued Journey to Big Screen

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Courtesy of Jessica Miglio

With millions of loyal readers and a fantastical setting, Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” book series has long tantalized Hollywood. The movie business is always on the prowl for the next “Lord of the Rings” or “Harry Potter.” King’s novels, about a mysterious gunslinger on a quest to save the universe, had the markings of a potential blockbuster.

However, getting the promising adaptation to the big screen took more than a decade and suffered several setbacks along the way, as one top director and screenwriter after another — including J.J. Abrams, who originally optioned the material — tried and failed to wrest the author’s eight-book opus into a workable film. After Universal Pictures scrapped plans to make a series of interconnected films and television shows with Ron Howard running point, Modi Wiczyk, co-founder of Media Rights Capital, set the project up under a co-financing deal with Sony Pictures.

In 2015, MRC and Sony jointly announced they had found a way into the story and tapped Nikolaj Arcel, the Oscar-nominated Danish filmmaker behind “A Royal Affair,” to direct the movie.

With “The Dark Tower” poised to debut this weekend, multiple sources told Variety that the creative process — particularly in post-production — was plagued with problems and clashing visions. Wiczyk and Sony Pictures chief Tom Rothman downplay any suggestion that the movie faced major hurdles.

But when Arcel delivered an early cut of the picture that alarmed Wiczyk and Rothman, they considered bringing in a more experienced filmmaker to recut it. While the two men deny this and insist their joint contribution was limited to giving the director notes, one insider said that Rothman spent hours in the editing bay offering his input.

Arcel seemed the ideal director on paper — “A Royal Affair” had earned an Oscar nomination and proved he could handle lavish spectacle, while his screenwriting work on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” demonstrated he could adapt beloved novels. Also, he was a big fan of King’s, enlisting his books to improve his English.

Arcel, however, had never worked on this complicated a project, and he found himself in over his head on the $66 million fantasy film, say several sources.

Three blind screenings last October, shown before final effects work had been completed, confirmed fears that the picture was a mess. Audiences at the test screenings couldn’t understand the mythology and rated the film poorly. A classic tale of good and evil, “The Dark Tower” stars Idris Elba as the last Gunslinger, who is locked in an eternal battle with a sorcerer known as the Man in Black, portrayed by Matthew McConaughey.

Sources say the companies ultimately opted not to enlist another filmmaker (one explained it would have been too costly), but the executives from the studios remained heavily involved. Ron Howard, a “Dark Tower” producer, who had hoped to direct the film when it was set up at Universal, advised Arcel on the music, and co-writer and producer Akiva Goldsman helped wrangle the film into shape.

Arcel insists he wasn’t sidelined.

“On a film with two studios and powerful producers, obviously there is much passionate creative debate on how to work certain ideas or beats,” he said. “But I felt supported throughout, and they all looked to me for answers. If someone had jumped into my editing room and taken over — I would have left instantly.”

Rothman and Wiczyk say they were impressed with Arcel’s work, with the Sony chief saying he “hopes to” collaborate with the director on future projects. Wiczyk also hit back at claims the film was troubled.

“We shot this on time and on budget,” he said. “We didn’t go over our schedule by even a day.” Calling his company “artist driven,” he added, “We would never marginalize or remove a director or dare to edit a film.”

Sources paint a more acrimonious picture of the production, one that was enabled by the unique nature of the deal that Sony struck with MRC — a pact that allowed competing power centers to emerge. The two companies split costs, and in return MRC was granted “kill rights” on everything from the marketing campaign to the final cut of the picture. If one company didn’t like a trailer or a cut of the film, it had to be scrapped, making it difficult to achieve consensus. It’s a rare type of partnership, with the kind of sign-off that few production companies enjoy. That led to a case of “too many cooks in the kitchen,” according to one insider. King also had a great deal of input. In return for the rights to his work, he retained veto approval of almost every aspect of the film.

Sony and MRC admit “The Dark Tower” defied easy translation. The books move forward and backward in time and reference multiple genres, from gangster films to Arthurian legends. It was a struggle to combine parts of several books into an 88-minute film that appeals to both King devotees and mainstream audiences.

Sony and MRC spent $6 million on reshoots to fill in more backstory about Elba’s character’s hatred for McConaughey’s Man in Black. In addition, to better familiarize audiences with Mid-World, the film’s magical setting, five minutes of exposition were cut and a new scene was shot to combine ideas that had been sprinkled throughout the picture.

Sony’s Rothman believes that the narrative complexity will ultimately help the film connect with audiences. “It’s a fantasy film and so yes, it’s complicated; it’s intricate and ambitious, but that’s a good thing because with the complexity of the stuff on television now, theater audiences want ambition,” he said.

On social media there’s been speculation about the quality of “The Dark Tower” given that the studio moved the picture premiere from February to July, only to push its release back by an additional week. Despite the mixed buzz, “The Dark Tower” is tracking to open in the mid-$20 million range. It also has the support of an important critic. In the novels, someone who acts dishonorably is said to have “forgotten the faces of his fathers.” After seeing the film, King sent Arcel an email praising him. “You have remembered the faces of your fathers,” he wrote.

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  1. Telecom says:

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  2. jules hernandez says:

    First of all, Roland was white, casting a Idris (not saying hes a bad actor) as the gunslinger was a big mistake because it takes Walker out of character, if she ever comes to life….. Idris im pretty sure did not read the books or he would of said “wait a minute, Roland is white”. And to think King gave the the go ahead astounds me. Die hard dark tower fan but not gonna watch this abomination,

    • JE says:

      Like Beyonce said, Boi Bye. Sorry superstar Idris Elba killed your dreams of a white man playing the ginslinger but ain’t nothing you can do about it.

    • Jason Willis says:

      Nah, I’m sure Idris would have loved it. The guy has the nerve to play a Norse god; he apparently really likes screwing with characters he has no business playing. Wonder how he feels to know he was given the role largely because of Hollywood’s “diversity casting” obsession, rather than purely based on talent.

  3. Skeleton Man says:

    Does getting an endorsement from King, the man who made Maximum Overdrive, really count for much?

  4. Jenn says:

    Can Hollywood finally ban that hackmaster Akiva Goldsman from every writing/producing again?

  5. Jill says:

    Two words: TOM ROTHMAN. The micro-manager from hell who thinks he has taste and is an artist. The idea of him spending all those hours in the editing room should be the subject of a Blum-House horror movie. But that could also be just too scary for audiences.

  6. cong bodonging says:

    The problem is that the Dark Tower should have been an R-rated sci-fi fantasy movie.

    instead its basically on the same level as most of the “young adult” movies…..

    From the trailers and everything I have read the did approximately what they did with Ender’s game

    basically – because there is a kid in the movie, they made it for kids.

  7. Sterling Archer says:

    How does Tom Rothman still have a job? Seriously? How does this man still maintain his employment with FAILURE AFTER FAILURE under his stewardship? Any other job, he would have been fired a long time ago. The game has clearly passed him by.

    • Jenn says:

      agreed – and Rothman is also a hateful human being. Fox is a much nicer place to be now that he’s gone – and not less successful. He is a human black cloud.

  8. Seems like the source material would have been better served as a limited series on HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. Also, Matthew McConaughey is a horrible choice since he cannot “act” without his accent and is anything but a dark menacing figure.

  9. Well that’s Sony for you. They are the devil of cinema. The guys who want to crossover “Men in Black” with “21 Jump street”, the creators of the massacre that was “Passengers” (Could care less if it sold, it was a poorly made film), the destroyers of “Spider-Man” (Poor Sam Raimi and their stupid Venom obsession), the Bankers of Adam Sandler, and now…the ones who ruined what could have been an epic tale if they had just adapted the books instead of his stupid “Sequel to a 9 book series not everyone has read!”. No idea why they thought that would work with general audiences. I’m studying teaching right now and there are a lot of similar rules to filmmaking I’ve noted. One big one…never assume your audience knows anything. Pretty sure a story about a multi-dimensional gunslinger falls under that. LOL

    • Bill Clay says:

      I’ve seen nothing in the trailers to convince me that this film is any different than the dozens of fantasy shows on cable television. I’ve certainly not seen anything to convince me to pay to see this.

      • Agreed. Trailers felt VERY generic. And apparently the more hardcore fans on here of the books all unanimously agree Elba, skin-color aside, doesn’t seem to be playing Roland.

  10. Mkay says:

    Dammit, I hope it’s like Wonder Woman and that all these are just rumours

  11. Bob McBobson says:

    The trailer outside of names and a few choice phrases is pretty much unrecognizable from the books. Roland is more generic action hero than Gunslinger (And no hat? Seriously?). The race stuff, who cares? I’m sure Idris Elba will do a good job, however they’ve written Roland. Too bad I am not confident from what I have seen that he is written remotely like the character from the books.

  12. Don says:

    I have no interest in this movie as it just wasn’t something that could properly be made. You can’t take 9 books and condense them into an 88 minute movie. I read the books as they came out and while Walter was part of the plot. If I recall. Roland knew him from the court and then met up at the camp fire. I don’t think he saw him after that. The rest was his quest to the black tower. Yet the movie is all about the man in black. I certainly don’t recall anywhere about Walter coming to destroy our Earth, but I guess you need a new plot. Don’t care that they cast Idris Elba as Roland. Many years back. I thought Thomas Haden Church would have made a great Roland. Would fans have been willing to wait on 3 movies? Hard to say. Fans of the LTR didn’t mind, but would this movie have the same fan base staying power willing to wait? It’s the year of bombs and you can probably add this one to the list

    • RT says:

      Are you sure you read the novels? It’s never called the “black” tower. Walter is lurking in the shadows in every novel and does come in contact with Roland and his ka tet throughout. Time for a re-read?

      • Tynan Patrick says:

        To be fair Walter is always floating around but he and Roland are only face to face in two scenes, once in the gunslinger and again in the Oz castle at the end of wizard and glaso. We see Walter a few times outside of that (lud and Thunderclap mainly) but Roland doesn’t.

  13. Wayne says:

    I’m not invested in the race for Roland as long as Idris does a great job (as he usually does) and I actually think that the casting also still allows the comment on race that is In King’s novels. It still hootential and I think,it was pretty daring going with Idris. He has the power to bring the character to life on the screen. Let’s see where this takes us first.

    • Tynan Patrick says:

      Idris is the only thing salvageable out of this steaming pile of garbage. It’s a fundamentally terrible movie, the Roland character is written very poorly (that thing from the trailer where it seems like Jake is having to convince Roland to not write off the tower, yeah that really happens) but Idris is actually really good for the part. He feels right for most of the movie and when he doesn’t feel right, it really isn’t his fault, it’s the script. The script and the entire idea behind the movie is a complete disaster. They used about 6 pages from the book and pretty much made the rest up.

      • william moody says:

        You notice Roland has all his fingers, I recall he lost them when he was ill by something similar to a lobster, Then he can’t use two guns so he give one to Eddy, and is Eddy even in this movie? I’ll wait until it comes out of Netflix or Amazon. I read it as King wrote the books, then I reread them all one right after the other, no way a 88 minutes movie can do justice.

  14. Ben Abramowitz says:

    So, with this movie, Suicide Squad, and Fant4stic, that’s now 3 movies in a row based on comics and/or novels with large fanbases that opened in the first week of August and may have been ruined by the studio making it.

    • Ben Abramowitz says:

      But to be fair, at least The Dark Tower’s director won’t bad-mouth the movie on Twitter, nor will the fans demand that Rotten Tomatoes be shut down after the movie gets panned.

  15. macd says:

    Most telling is the fact that 2 days before it opens, there are still no reviews of THE DARK TOWER. Obviously, it’s a stinker its distributor is trying to hide from the critics.

  16. Han says:

    Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman are about the last people in the world I would take ‘advice’ from…

    Arcel’s original version is now destroyed.

    An “epic” at 88 minutes…a total joke.

    This could have been good, too bad.

  17. Crystal Brooks says:

    Books or comics tend to change when they get to the screen. Remember the flack over Scarlett Johansson being cast in Ghost In The Shell. And some people were losing their minds over the idea of a black James Bond. I tend to keep the book and movie separate. I loved the book version of Absolute Power by David Balducci. But the movie version was horrible. Clint Eastwood messed it up.

    • diamonion says:

      Yeah, I remember the flack over Scarlett Johansson being cast in Ghost In The Shell. How’d that go? When do they start filming 2nd GIG?
      My problem with King signing off on this is Maximum Overdrive.

    • Kevin says:

      Except race is a sub-plot in the books. Hard to have a black character call what is supposed to be a white character, and now is a black actor, a honkey muffa or cracker…

      • Kevin says:

        Actually the Detta personality appears in four of the novels and is mentioned in two more. It’s not just some quick moment that is resolved on a few pages, she has a total hatred for white people that her normal personality of Odette is not even aware of. She tried to kill Eddie among other things. Even after Roland causes the merging of the two to create Susannah, we still see Detta reappear while Odetta is never heard from again.

      • Kinoeye says:

        It’s not a “sub-plot” in the books. It’s a pretty minor part of one book. And for all you know, Susannah could be cast as white in the films. So that small bit of quickly resolved racial tension could still be there, except reversed. In this case you’d see a white woman from the 60’s who is distrustful of a black man, instead of a black woman from the 1960’s who is distrustful of a white man. What’s the difference?

  18. Soul says:

    I’m not sure what the big deal is about Roland being cast as a black guy. Think about it, if the story has happened multiple times, do you think it’s a carbon copy each time? Who’s to say Roland hasn’t already been black? Or even a woman. Just something to think about.

    • Rev says:

      ” Think about it, if the story has happened multiple times”

      Think about it (or actually read the books), it’s about a character basically stuck in a loop – so YES, he would basically be the same.

      It’s not about black/white – regardless of color, Idris looks/acts NOTHING like Roland. This is a fail, then again, nothing in the trailer really looks like anything out of the books (other than a couple of nice establishing shots).

  19. Gargles says:

    “On social media there’s been speculation about the quality of “The Dark Tower” given that the studio moved the picture premiere from February to July, only to push its release back by an additional week.”

    How great is the internet? If it were released in February, they’d be dumping it because it sucks. But in this case it was moved *TO THE SUMMER* so…they’re dumping it because it sucks?

    I wonder how much of the social media speculation is coming from the poisoned pens of people who never got over Roland being black.

    • wjbodin3 says:

      Where is the 5th member of the ka-tet, the one that gave his life directly to save Roland?

      • Rev says:

        Sigh… People aren’t bummed that he’s black. They’re upset that they didn’t find an actor that actually looks like Roland in the book’s illustrations and in the comics.

        It wasn’t about race until the race-baiting victim train came rolling in.

      • Terry says:

        Oy!!!

  20. Chaiken says:

    There are more worlds than these. I am going to see this movie with a open heart and mind. I love these books. BUT….. Who is to say this is the only world with gunslingers and that Roland was a white man in that world. I would have loved if they had stuck with the original story and had clint Eastwood s son play the part. But the whole dynamic of race didn’t come into play until the drawing of the three. So in my opinion they can have a white woman play Odetta then you still have the race issue. From the preview of the movie I saw I think I will enjoy the movie and if not there’s always the chance of a remake. Look at how many times they remade Carrie.

    • Kevin says:

      Having a white woman does not work well with this backstory of Odetta Walker. My biggest issue is they are trying to sell this as “totally cannon” and that is a direct quote from the director.

  21. Leon says:

    Absolutely Failure. The very first word in the book is F**K and there is a scene where he needs to shoot a women inside the V. Yeah pg-13 real smart move he said sarcastically while shaking his head. This movie is a complete failure and the studio ruined it by making a truly adult novel pg 13 and PC for younger lamer baby audiences. Fail! Massive fail!

    • Tynan Patrick says:

      The funk are you talking about? The opening line is “the man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed”. Fuck is not the first word of any book nor does Roland (or anyone else) shoot a woman “in the V”. This is complete nonsense.

    • Will says:

      No, the first word in the books is “The”. The second is “man”. Heck, the whole opening sentence is “the man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed”

    • Ghanima says:

      You clearly haven’t read the books.

  22. Deborah Bell says:

    Are you guys really that upset that they cast Roland as black? Lol

  23. Deborah Bell says:

    Maybe because of the political climate of today maybe they thought it best not to have Odetta call Roland a homie. I agree that there is no way you can do justice to this story in 88 minutes.

  24. TJH says:

    It’s not the series. It take a multi season series to do it justice. I like the idea of Elba as the Gunslinger, though that would change the dynamic with Odetta Walker. I’ll accept what they’re trying and give it a shot. If it’s bad, well King was found of quoting James M. Cain, who said when someone told him Hollywood had ruined his books, Cain replied they’re still on the shelf there, nothing wrong with them, or words to that effect.

  25. Bill Riffe says:

    I’ve been a fan for 35 years passing the love of the story to my boys who love it as much as I do. We all agree that this has been a disaster from the start. Casting a black man as Roland destroys the dynamic between the characters. Race was an integral part of this dynamic and making Roland black removes a major component especially with the interplay surrounding Detta.
    This could have been the next Lord of the Rings had a competent director and cast been hired. It appears it will instead go the way of so many great novels that were not given the talent or money to realize their potential as an epic adventure series.
    This could and should have been done in three movies. The story is no less epic and involved than is the Lord of the Rings and I would argue much more so.
    King, shame on you for letting these amateurs ruin a great story.

    • tom says:

      The fact that you think the race of the characters matter at all tells me you’ve read something from the books that is not there. Stephen King himself said the race of the characters is irrelevant, but the fact that you’ve decided one of the characters being black ruins it says more about you than it does about the quality of the story. How in the world is race integral to the story?

      • For thirty years Roland has been white. Had it just been the printed word I wouldn’t mind as much, bu the color illustrations contained in all the novels as well as in the comic series depict him as the same sinewy, black haired white male. It makes it near impossible to accept any other depiction as being Roland. It is jarring, and it destroys my suspension of disbelief pulling me right out of the movie. Every time I see him, my mind instantly says “that’s not Roland”.

        I know it is much easier to simply label anyone who objects as racist and thus be able to simply dismiss their entire argument (No matter how well explained or reasonable) without giving it any consideration or producing a good counter argument as to why they are wrong.

        If Disney changed Mickey Mouse to be green don’t u think people would object? Perhaps even find it hard to convince themselves that Mickey is actually green?

      • Rev says:

        Sounds like you’re projecting your own race issues (or denial?) and most likely have not read any of the books. Race is integral to the books. And oh, since there are illustrations and comics, Roland does happen to have a look; brown hair, blue eyes, pale skin – not unlike Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns.

        I wouldn’t take King’s word on adaptations; look what he said about Under the Dome, which was a mess and absolutely NOTHING like the book.

      • 4 decade 8 books of a white gunslinger. Yes, Stephen King said that. Wtf else is he going to say? Any way you shake it, he would be bashed and called a racist if he said otherwise. The problem here is, this movie began filming during the decade of appeasement (Obama Presidency) and everyone thought Hillary would be the next President. Even the director of this horrid film. He said everyone questioning the casting of this film was a racist. Look it up. Now that the decade of appeasement has come to an end and Hillary IS NOT President, people aren’t buying that stupid racist poop anymore. Shut the hell up with that crap. 4 decades. 8 books of a white gunslinger with blue eyes. It’s borderline retarded and it doesn’t make one a racist for calling it what it is. Lets cast Miles Teller as Kunta Kinte in the Roots reboot!!

      • purplereign2 says:

        It will be interesting to see Detta Walker call Roland a honky motherf*er while Idris Elba looks back, confused. The person’s point is a good one, the second book’s central plot revolved around race. In a larger sense, it certainly makes no difference what race Roland is. But it is essential to the plot, unless of course you gut the plot to make a mindless shootemup like this 88 minute abortion seems to be.

    • TJH says:

      So, you know better than King. Why don’t you rewrite hid work yo your satisfaction and give us the chance to offer our ctiticism.

      • Rev says:

        Why rewrite the work? No need.

        Roland is ALREADY a white, blue-eyed man that looks like Clint Eastwood in the old westerns. There are illustrations in the book, FYI.

      • andsoitgoes42 says:

        Have you watched the adaptation of The Shining that King actually likes? It’s terrivle.

        King’s books will always be something spectacular and more special than we can truly ever understand, but King is not a filmmaker and has never shown himself to understand the translation. I won’t admonish Maximum Overdrive, because he’s admitted to being drugged out of his head throughout the entire process, but the hand he’s had in some of his later works and their translations that he’s been okay with don’t give me the assurances that I’d have had otherwise.

        also, just because you’ve created genius things does not make you a genius in perpetuity. See: George Lucas, Ridley Scott, Francis Ford Coppola

  26. Chris Aragon says:

    Sorry, Idris is one hell of an actor, but he’s no Roland. Not going to watch the film.

  27. Sandra White says:

    After following this saga at the time it was written and knowing there is no end to this story even hinted at in the original I’m no longer interested. If King finally wanted to write an ending or continue the saga he should have written another book.

    • Bill Riffe says:

      I disagree. The story ended the only way it could have. It was a brilliant literary journey and the ending was just as brilliant.

      • Ghanima says:

        No hint at an end? Did you not read the same ending I did?

        “This is your promise that things may be different, Roland — that there may yet be rest. Even salvation.

        A pause, and then:

        If you stand. If you are true.”

  28. DougW says:

    Instead of being too complicated, it looks like the flaw is that it’s too simple. Good guy. Bad guy. Kid. Trailers haven’t even made me the least bit interested.

  29. Likeucare says:

    It is been widely reported this is not an adaption of the books but a continuation. Your lack of knowledge about the subject of your article is telling. And if people want to believe your “sources” (google probably) over people’s actual statements it says more about those people than about the subject. I dont think Roland being black is a problem, but trying to put all the wacky events of the books in a movie would be a mistake imho. I enjoyed the books, but there is some deeply unsatisfying and ridiculous stuff in there. I hope they dont mess it up though, because i am interested in seeing the next chapter in the story that really didn’t end despite thousands of pages of reading over decades.

    • tom says:

      Conversely, if he were just pulling all of this from the internet, he surely would’ve seen that the movie takes place after the series?

  30. LiptonMaker says:

    Rothman strikes again!

  31. angstt says:

    You forgot the most important point- Roland was white. Throughout the books there are several key points that depend on it, the most obvious being Odetta Walker’s hatred of ‘honkies’ (sic). I understand now why they mistakenly chose Idris- too many cooks spoil the soup.

    • trouty42 says:

      @angstt If it was that important, in your words “most important”, that Roland be white then Stephen King would never have allowed the casting of a black man for the part. So I guess you are 100% without-any-doubt wrong. Definitively wrong. As wrong as it’s possible to ever be wrong. Getting my point Mr. Wrong?

      • e1b1 says:

        How about Detta hates Roland because he yanked her out of thin air from NYC to a secluded, endless beach with Lobstrosities?

      • Rev says:

        Stephen King wasn’t involved in casting the movie, FYI.
        Not sure what your point is.

        What’s wrong with casting a movie with an actor that actually looks similar to the character he’s playing?

        Why race-bait?

      • purplereign2 says:

        Did you read the books? If you did you know why he’s saying Roland’s whiteness is important. I love that the internet has interpreted this as racism, just shows how ignorant most people are while still willing to run their mouths like school marm / sociology expert. The second book is literally all about race, one of the characters despises Roland for his whiteness. Now, to someone that wants a faithful book adaptation,can you not see how it’s a problem? They got around this huge plot issue by just having no plot, so fans are disappointed. Jesus christ people, not everything is racist. No one got angry when Morgan Freeman played Red in Shawshank Redemption, because his race isn’t central to the plot of that story. They care in this case because it hurts the story, not because they think Roland couldn’t possibly be black.

    • Kate says:

      Exactly……..Odetta’s relationship with Roland and her coming together as a complete person uses the hatred as a tool to push her character forward into the integrated person she becomes….more than the sum of her parts, so to speak.
      I really like Idris Elba, but he’s not Roland, sorry.

  32. Honestly, this movie looks like absolute scifi garbage, from the commercials.
    There was nothing fantastical about Roland, other than his uncanny ability to read a situation and act quicker than humanly possible to remedy it, but they insist on adding flashy reload scenes for no other reason than to draw a new audience,
    I won’t see it, because I choose not to have this story of the ages to be bastardized for nothing more than the almighty dollar.

    • Dan James says:

      They repeatedly reference Roland’s special rapid reload technique in the books, he has a trick (that is never described in great detail from what i remember) to reload his gun one-handed whilst shooting with the other.

      • andsoitgoes42 says:

        Which itself takes an interesting turn in book 2, if I remember? I’m in dire need of reading them again!

  33. Matthew Hunt says:

    There is many unnamed sources to bother taking this article seriously. The author of it is drumming up controversy. Sensationalist article.

  34. GH says:

    I’ve watched the trailers a few times and they all just seem to be missing some . . . ingredient that would this any kind of must-see entertainment. So much talking but not the faintest clue to what’s going on for the uninitiated, which in theory should be the majority of people you’re trying to attract when promoting big-budget fare like this.

    • GH says:

      Almost forgot: 88 minutes? Seriously? Part of me thinks that that running time can’t possibly convey enough of a story of this nature, while another part of me is grateful that the movie isn’t some bloated 2.5 hour test of patience.

  35. RolandofGilead says:

    If the movie is anything like the mess of a script I read (which tries to shove elements from all 7 books into 1 movie for some reason), then yeah, making Roland black is the least of this disaster’s many problems.

  36. Ben says:

    If Tom Rothman is speaking up for it you know you have trouble. Lets recall how he spoke for the Ghostbusters reboot right before it tanked. and even when so far to claim they already were planning on making a ‘sequel. My guess is Dark Tower tanks.

  37. In the book Roland was not black. And it changes the whole dynamic to cast him as such. That right there ruined the movie since the other two film franchises listed in the article, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter were praised for adhering to the books. So said that they had to ruin it like that.

  38. Patrick Duhnwhitty says:

    This should have been a Game of Thrones like television series or, at the very least, a trilogy of films but they decided to smash all of it into a single film? Jesus. As for King praising anything, he has notoriously bad taste. This is the man who would whore out his approval for just about ANY novel, including an L. Ron Hubbard one! ::boggle::

    • Duvel says:

      This is just the first part to set things up. The plan is at least a trilogy of movies and several seasons of television

      • GH says:

        That WAS the plan, but it all fell apart. Now everything seems to hinge on this single movie . . .

  39. Jose says:

    How many times can Modi blatantly lie?

    I know his reputation proceeds him but lying outwardly on this level just makes him look bafoonish…

  40. AllWiledUp says:

    It has always seemed to be impossible to adapt such a dense work with such a complicated story to the screen. I’ll definitely check it out opening weekend though. I’m a diehard Dark Tower fan.

  41. Ellie says:

    Looking forward to seeing the finished productvand judgung it on its merits.

  42. Adam Poole says:

    the biggest problem is making the white gunslinger black… if a movie made a black character into white, people would be in a uproar

    • Don’t remember anyone complaining when the Shawshank Redemption cast Morgan Freeman to play the white character of Red…..

    • Shaun says:

      Just get over it, for god’s sake

    • Steve says:

      Why is it a problem to make him black?

      • Steph says:

        Ugh, I can’t edit… after a re-read of my (long) comment, I realized the 2nd paragraph should say:

        Odetta/Detta/Susannah’s interactions as a Black woman ‘kidnapped’ into another dimension by a White man, for his own needs and aims (and a privileged white man, at that- Gunslingers are akin to royalty in Mid-World) are a big part of Susannah’s Mid-World story, and a huge part of her character development. Susannah wouldn’t exist without Detta.

        She and Roland come to have a special relationship within the Ka-tet where she is his (unofficial) Second. She is the last of the Ka-tet to leave Roland when they approach the Tower. They have a very deep trust bond, and that took a great and unique effort to build after the deeply racist Detta’s initial take-over, and her continued suspicion and resentment at being ‘trapped’ in Mid-World. The explosive racial dynamic between Susannah and Roland is important to the story, especially the character of Susannah. Roland gains wisdom from their unique relationship, and is both surprised and dismayed to learn that dark-skinned people in our world are discriminated against.

        Sorry this is all so long, but the books are complicated. :) That’s part of what makes them so freakin’ good!

      • Steph says:

        This movie, like the first book, is basically an introduction to Roland of Gilead and the Man in Black (aka Walter O’Dim, Randall Flagg, Marten…he’s gone by many names). Jake, too, but judging by the trailers they’ve already messed that up, too. Sigh.

        The second book, The Drawing of the Three, is where the real action starts. Roland pulls tye other members of his Ka-tet (the main characters in the series) from their various time periods here, on Earth. Eddie Dean is from our 1980’s, and Odetta Holmes is from our 1960’s. Odetta is a strong, intelligent, wealthy Black woman, a Freedom Rider, a true fighter for Civil Rights. She lost her legs in an ‘accident’ (long story…related to the Tower, of course) so she is in a wheel chair. She was abused by white cops in jail in the deep south. Due to her trauma, she also suffers from Multiple Personality Disorder. Her protective personality is named Detta Walker, and Detta is a nasty piece of work. She embodies every ugly, negative stereotype believed of black women in her era, everything Odetta is not. Detta even speaks with a ridiculous ‘Mamie’ vocabulary and accent (think Butterfly McQueen from ‘Gone With the Wind’). She is combative, ignorant, promiscuous, and just not a good person (again, everything Odetta is not). Detta comes out when she feels Odetta needs protecting, and being dragged into another dimension by an injured and bleeding, cowboy-looking white man brings Detta to the fore. Detta HATES Roland. Calls him a “honkey muh-fuh,” and all sorts of other ridiculous insults, tries to kill him, her i torduction to Mid-World is just a dangerous mess. Roland eventually manages to ‘cure’ her by merging Odetta and the Detta-personality into one. Odetta/Detta becomes Susannah, a Gunslinger. The Detta personality does still pop out from time to time when needed (during a rape by a demon, during a very odd childbirth, which also includes a 4th personality (or is it??), Mia… again, long story).

        The entire storyline, parts of which span the entire series, is what makes Susannah Dean who she is. She is a main character, and her riveting interactions with Roland will be impossible because of Roland beimg Black in the movies. That is why the casting is such a big deal. Roland being white, as described many, many, many times in the book, is an integral part of Susannah’s story.

        Somehow, I don’t think a white Detta/Odetta/Susannah slinging racial insults at a black Roland would go over so well, so I doubt they’ll try to ‘flip the script’ in the next movie (if it’s even made). They’ll probably just cut that whole part of Susannah’s story out. Which is a shame.

      • Luke Attmuhnaughts says:

        Sony is actually releasing a Christmas movie this December and Santa has been cast as a Native American Indian. It’s just a trend.

      • MartyMcDoc says:

        Sorry @Duval. That was meant for @Adam Poole

      • MartyMcDoc says:

        @Duval
        Roland ISNT a Cowboy. He’s a Gunslinger. He’s a knight. He’s never called a cowboy. Or an old west cowboy. He doesn’t even come from our world. So he can’t be black because our Earths idea of old west is a bunch of old white guys? Gimme a break.

      • Bill Todd says:

        @ LoneWolfArcher

        Yeah the book already had one black character, now they want two? The audacity!

        I’m with you though, I can handle an old west cowboy that exists in a sci-fi/fantasy alternate dimension but to make him black… that’s just too unbelievable!

      • Duvel says:

        Roland an old west cowboy? Have you read the books?

      • Because it changes the whole dynamic from the book. The book already had a black character. A strong, handicapped (lost her legs when a racist pushed her onto subway tracks) black woman. They didn’t need to make this change from the book.

        And to the person that mentions Red in Shawshank, completely different. Red’s race was not important to the overall plot line.Roland is an old west cowboy. It isn’t believable for him to be black.

    • Doesn’t sound like that’s anywhere close to the film’s myriad problems.

      • limnerc says:

        I guess you don’t read history–particularly “African American” American History. The term “cowboy” was coined for African American men who worked herds. Yep, and there were African American settlers, and soldiers, called Buffalo Soldiers. And hell yes there were Black cowboys.

      • Bill Riffe says:

        It’s not even that Roland is an old west cowboy…he’s technically not. He’s a knight using a weapon that happens to be what we think of as an old west weapon.
        The problem with making Roland black is that it completely destroys the character dynamics between two of the main characters in the book…Roland and Odetta. That is enough to completely alter the storyline in several fundamental ways.
        It’s too bad that a director could have been hired that was closer to the talents of those seen in the Lord of the Rings or the Harry Potter series. Those would have been more likely to produce something worthy of the novels brilliance.
        I don’t know how much control King had over the process. If he had any at all he should be ashamed to have allowed the project to go forward. While he’s probably the best writer of our time he is completely horrible at protecting his work when it goes to the screen.
        A complete shame for such an epic adventure.

      • hypoxus says:

        My issue with Idris Elba being cast as the gunslinger isn’t that he’s black, it’s that he has gentle eyes. Roland was decribed as have cold, even compassionless eyes. It was one of his most defining features, and I think an integral part of his mythos.

      • Xavier says:

        It isnt unbelievable. 1/3rd of cowboys/outlaws of the old west were black. Hell, the “Lone Ranger” WAS ACTUALLY BLACK. Look up Bass Reeves. Hollywood has been able to control the perceptions of what people can or cannot be and has been doing it since forever ago. Sooo the argument of “he cant be a cowbow” or whatever is uninformed. Also, because of that representation we’ve seen time and time again, the same old tale of the white gunslinger has gotten stale. Yeah, it changes the vibe when you make this character black, but you also get a fresh take or flavor in the film.

        Movie might suck anyways though. I like the lead actors, but this has a “Last Action Hero” smell to it. Admittedly, I know nothing about the books, so I may not know anything.

      • Peggy Allen says:

        For those of you saying that making an Old West Cowboy black is not true to history. You’re idiots. In reality the MAJORITY of cowboys were BLACK. Ex-slaves who moved west. And YES Hollywood has been lying to you.

  43. EXACTLY!!!
    It is this simple.

  44. Kinoeye says:

    I totally agree. Back in the old days, I was a fan of baseball. I knew what baseball players looked like. I expected them to look a certain way, so that I could feel comfortable and happy watching baseball. Then that Jackie guy showed up and ruined everything for the fans that loved the game of baseball for so many years.

    So I totally get where you are coming from. Do you?

  45. Kinoeye says:

    I totally agree. Back in the old days, I was a fan of baseball. I knew what baseball players looked like. I expected them to look a certain way, so that I could feel comfortable and happy watching baseball. Then that Jackie guy showed up and ruined everything for the fans that loved the game of baseball for so many years.

    So I totally get where you are coming from. Do you?

  46. Marialice Novo says:

    Maybe you should read. I would suggest the DICTIONARY, then perhaps the books on which the story is based upon. Then you would realize why the actor should be white. Grow up.

  47. Rev says:

    No need to race-bait. Take a breath and think…

    Book fans want somebody to play Roland THAT LOOKS LIKE ROLAND from the book illustrations and comics. That does not mean they don’t like black people.
    If they cast Jack Black as Roland, fans would complain for the same reason; they want somebody who looks like Roland.

    Seriously. Stop with the race obsessing. Your comment is very racist and has absolutely nothing to with King’s novel nor his fans. If you don’t like it, sit down or be gone.

    Seriously, you have my pity. May you get over your obsession with white people one day and move on with your life. So sad to see PoCs try to crap all over this great novel to push their victimization and race obsession. Sorry PoCs can’t create epic stories for themselves. Must be frustrating.

    #BlameWhitey

  48. Kevin says:

    Not only is your post really immature and shows a total lack of knowledge, it does make a difference that he is black because race is a big sub-plot starting in the second book. It does not bother you because you haven’t read the books. It bothers me because at first this was being sold as being “cannon” but then they changed the marketing to say it happens after the books, a new continuum. I’m going to give it a chance but if it totally blows I likely won’t watch any future TV series or movies if it’s the same director.

    “Detta Walker is an alternate personality of Susannah Dean. This personality was created when Jack Mort dropped a brick on the head of Odetta Holmes. Detta is a violent and base individual ruled by sexual desire. She is fueled by hatred towards white people, calling them “honky mahfahs”. Her accent represents a stereotyped view of how black people speak. Eddie Dean once described it as being part Butterfly McQueen and part Foghorn Leghorn.

    Unlike Odetta, Detta’s personality reappears on numerous occasions throughout the series, sometimes helping and sometimes hindering Roland Deschain and his Ka-Tet. As is the case when in Blaine’s Cradle where Detta solves the riddle of the prime numbers running backwards.”

  49. I am in concert with you on this my friend. I’ve waited my entire life to see the Dark Tower come to the big screen and I hope this movie doesn’t get dragged down by internet bigots. They can all go fuck themselves for all I care. Fuck them and all those dumb fucking superhero movies that they only give a shit about.

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