Ron Howard to Direct “The Dark Tower” Movie Trilogy? Bleh.

Dark Tower Movie Poster When I heard that J.J. Abrams was going to be in charge of The Dark Tower film series, I was ecstatic.  LOST is my favorite, Fringe is amazing, the new Star Trek franchise finally brought it out of the basement dweller zone, and Cloverfield was fun enough.

Then he backed out saying that he wouldn’t be able to do the series justice with as much as he had on his plate, so he preferred to pass on the project until the studio could find someone who could.  That’s entirely understandable; I respect that decision.

It turns out, the studio is now in discussions with Ron Howard for the role.

And I would prefer to never have a Dark Tower movie than have Opie at the helm.

Creative Differences

I disagree almost completely with the creative team being put in charge of the product.

Now, Ron Howard has made some good movies: A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, and Willow come to mind.  But for all those, there have been literary stinkers, too, like Angels and Demons and The DaVinci Code.

Now, Howard isn’t the only one to blame for those fiascos.  The screenwriter gets the blame for that, and lo and behold, Akiva Goldsman gets the nod for The Dark Tower script despite proving through his Dan Brown scripts that he has no idea how to effectively adapt a complex plot for the silver screen.

A Trilogy? What?

Yes, you read that right. A trilogy. For seven books.

It will be impossible for them to fit all seven books into anything but a severely abridged, incomprehensible movie trilogy, which (astonishingly) the team seems to have realized.  Because they are then going to continue the franchise as an ongoing television series to be transitioned into after the movies. Here’s praying for a premium network like HBO to pick it up.  If this goes network, we can forget right now about ever seeing it through to the end.

DarkTower7UK Moving to TV presents its own set of challenges: pacing the narrative, finding an audience, and getting ratings enough to even finish the run.  Will the same actors then move to the small screen?  The production crew?

And what about the story?  Will Howard and Goldsman squeeze that severely abridged story into 3 movies and then opt for after-hours storytelling in the TV show? Or will this be the second-half of the narrative, just being told in a different medium?

We just don’t know right now.  And as a huge fan of the literature, that frightens me. Normally, I love to see my favorite works adapted into movies, TV, and games.  But this time, I don’t see how the transition is going to do anything but doom the franchise into visual media hell.

Time will tell, though.  Maybe Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman will surprise me. I hope they do. What are your thoughts on this announcement?

By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. I think a miniseries is the only way to go here, and a lengthy miniseries at that. I also think this might be an “unfilmable” project, seeing as how meta it gets at times. But a trilogy? Hm. Maybe. After all, they did get LOTR into a decent trilogy.

    As for Ron Howard, I’m just not a fan of his, even though he did the excellent Arrested Development.

    1. My personal vote goes to a “True Blood” style TV series, with each season roughly corresponding to one of the novels. Sure, stuff would be left out and have to be abridged, but I think that format would be much better than film. A miniseries would be neat, but I think it would still have to be a series of miniseries, like SyFy’s Dune/Children of Dune, only longer.

      LOTR was also a 3-novel set when published, too, which made the split go a lot easier than it might have otherwise. And Peter Jackson, I think, has a lot better literary vision than Howard does.

      I can’t speak on Arrested Development; I haven’t seen it despite everyone saying it would be a perfect fit for me.

      1. Arrested development is hilarious, I’d recommend it to anyone.

        As for the film announcement, you’re right, Ron Howards recent films were at least disappointing. I really enjoyed reading The Gunslinger too, and I’d hate to see it ruined.
        It would look good as a TV series.

        1. Have you read the rest of the series? He really found his footing after The Gunslinger, if you ask me, and the others tie everything together a lot more than it does.

          1. Well I just finished the first novel, literally last week sometime. It was good so I planned on reading others, but I’m new to King’s work and I still have Tommyknockers and Hearts in Atlantis to plow through first. The rest of the dark Tower Series is definitely on my to-read list, though, maybe even bumped up a few. Your allusions to the future books intrigues me…

  2. I didn’t realise that Ron Howard was attached to Arrested Development, it’s on-par with Peep Show (cult British tv-show) in my list of favourite comedies. I totally recommend Arrested Development Beej, I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who hasn’t gushed about it upon watching an episode or two. I also recommend Peep Show, I don’t think it’s got much of a following stateside though.

    I hate to say it but I don’t think there’s any way of translating the Dark Tower series to tv – as Syp says, it’s just too ‘meta’ at times, I can’t see audiences wrapping their heads around King’s appearance, not to mention all people who would scream bloody murder as they watched the epilogue.

    1. I’ve never even heard of Peep Show, though I’m intrigued now.

      It is /very/ meta at times, and I can see that part of the narrative being completely taken out during the adaptive process. And you’re right: people would complain about the epilogue. However, as someone who’s done scholarship on the series (or attempted to before my Master’s thesis got canned and switched to comps), I’m of the belief that the epilogue’s ending is the perfect one for the series. If the reader quits when King tells them to (to get the /happy/ ending), they miss out on the actual resolution and character development that has been in the works for seven novels. Without the epilogue and what Roland finds at the top of the Tower, the cycle can never be complete, nor can Roland’s journey ever have closure. He learns so much during the iteration we’re privy to that without the epilogue, it’s near meaningless.

      Ok, sorry, that was a little nerd rant. I’ll do better. I promise! 😉

  3. I’m disappointed that it’s not JJ Abrams too but I suppose we can’t have everything. I’ve got nothing against Ron Howard but I’m not thrilled either – I’ll reserve judgement.

    I think a trilogy will work fine actually. The series is going to need to be heavily edited to fit into any film format so it’s as good as we could have hoped.
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Video Games And Freemasonry =-.

    1. You’re far more optimistic than I am, Gordon. I don’t see how a trilogy can be done. I am fine with heavy edits, but cropping 60% of the material? I just think it will lose its heart.

    1. I’m on the fence. In some ways, I’d love to boycott it so that they don’t get my 15 bucks toward making more of what I expect to be crap. But then there’s the DT fanboy/pseudo-scholar who will be there for the midnight showing.

  4. As a long-time King / Dark Tower fan, I am excited about the idea of a movie or series but worried that it can’t be done correctly. There are so many moments in all of King’s works that occur entirely in the characters’ heads – how do you translate that onto the screen? How do you explain Roland without all the background from the books??? It is a huge undertaking and one that I believed may be possible with JJ Abrams in the picture. But Ron Howard?? I love his work, but I don’t think he’s the guy. Prove me wrong, Ron!

    1. I hope he proves me wrong, too. Abrams is a very inventive storyteller, while Howard tends to be more mainstream, which is not a bad thing until one realizes that–like you mention–the Dark Tower is a lot going on that doesn’t translate very well. He interior characterization would be cheesy if done through voice-over, but that is, I think, the way Howard would run with it. I’m not sure if I’m okay with that.

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