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Universal has announced plans to turn Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” into three films and a TV series based on Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower.” Dave McNary reports:

The studio made the announcement Wednesday, five months after talks began among King, Akiva Goldsman’s Weed Road and Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment.

King’s seven-book series is set in an alternate world resembling the Old West and focuses on the last member of an ancient order of “gunslingers” and his quest toward a tower that’s also the center of all universes. First book, “The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger” was published in 1982. Final book, “The Dark Tower VII,” was published in 2004.

“Building a franchise home for ‘The Dark Tower’ is an exciting opportunity for this studio, and we’re thrilled that Stephen has entrusted us to bring his beloved novels to the big screen,” said Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson.

Howard will direct the first film and the first season of TV, which will be written by Goldsman — who will produce the film through Weed Road with Howard and Grazer for Imagine. Plans are for are the first film in the trilogy to be immediately followed by the TV series that will bridge the second film.

Howard, Grazer and Goldsman will executive produce the TV series for Universal Media Studios.

Read more here.

Universal likely hopes that this plan turns out better than its big plans for “Van Helsing.” Back in 2003, NBC and Universal — which were about to merge — had such high hopes for the feature that the network and studio immediately put a TV spinoff into development. (Read about it here.

But NBC eventually soured on the project, titled “Transylvania” (read about how the project fell apart here). “Van Helsing,” of course, was ultimately a flop — and the first major attempt at synergy between new siblings NBC and Universal fell flat.