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At Hero Complex: Ron Howard and the Dark Tower

December 19, 2010 | 11:59 am

Gunslinger Stephen King began writing the Dark Tower series when he was 19 and kept at it for decades, writing close to 4,000 pages: There are seven novels plus a short story. The epic story of a gunslinger on a quest is part science fiction, part fantasy, part horror and part western.

Could King's mammoth tale be filmable? Ron Howard thinks so: He gave Hero Complex an exclusive interview about his plans.

"We worked on it for a year before we even met with him," Howard said. “It was all about putting something together that was good enough and getting such an understanding of the material that Stephen King would say, ‘Yes, that’s the way into this story.' "

Howard, producer Brian Grazer and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman -- who successfully teamed up on "A Beautiful Mind" -- are talking about doing the project as not just one movie, but three. And that's not all -- because the Dark Tower story is so big, the plan is to have a television series that runs between the films. Hero Complex explains:

The target release for the first movie is 2013. The television series would then follow and bridge to the second film. After the second movie, the television series would pick up again and carry forward to the final film in the trilogy. A television series that functions as the mortar between cinematic brick? It’s an audacious plan but in a September statement Goldsman said grand-scale storytelling is needed for the grand-scale source material....

The idea hasn't yet been given the final OK by Hollywood, but the first film is said to be planned for 2013. And one important player is happy with the plans: Stephen King.

“We’re really early on, but he and I do know that he loves what he’s hearing and he’s excited about it,” Howard said. “He has just been so welcoming. ‘Welcome aboard’ is how I would describe the reception we got. ... I think he has a genuine curiosity, even at this point in his amazing career, about the way his work can be taken to another medium and therefore a kind of openness and freedom about what those stories will look like.  I hope it goes great. I hope it goes the way we think it will. It never does, really. But sometimes it goes better.”

The Dark Tower series may see the publication of an eighth book; in 2009, King said he was working on another installment, "The Wind in the Keyhole." It also has continued in a graphic-novel series published by Marvel and in the online game, Dischordia.

-- Carolyn Kellogg