The film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower — whose first trailer was just released after a long wait — has had a bumpy ride thus far. The eight-book series, which King published between 1982 and 2012, was first floated as a multi-film series to be directed by J.J. Abrams and adapted by his Lost collaborators Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof. That project was first announced in 2007, before Abrams took on Star Trek; shortly after that film’s release two years later, Abrams announced he and his team couldn’t lick it.
Ron Howard was next up to the plate. His producing partner Brian Grazer unveiled a plan in 2010 for Howard to direct an adaptation of the saga that would span several films and television min-series, from a screenplay by Akiva Goldsman (whose credits include Howard’s A Beautiful Mind and Cinderella Man, as well as, um, Batman & Robin) with Javier Bardem in the leading role of gunslinger Roland Deschain. Universal and NBC (which are owned by same parent company) were on board to distribute/air the series – and then they weren’t, when the project was put into turnaround in 2011 over budgetary concerns. Shortly thereafter, there was chatter of a TV-only version heading to HBO, but that too came to naught.
Finally, two years ago, Sony Pictures picked up the option on a single film and “fast-tracked” it (sort of a hilarious designation, all things considered) with Nikolaj Arcel – a Danish filmmaker best known for directing the 2012 sleeper A Royal Affair and writing the 2009 adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – to direct and co-write, with Howard and Grazer remaining as producers. Iris Elba stepped in to the role of “The Gunslinger,” Matthew McConaughey was cast as the villainous “Man in Black,” and they were off to the races. But even this iteration has had its share of bad buzz, since Sony’s bumped it down the calendar across three different release dates. And for a while there was nary a trailer in sight – a peculiar blackout for a major summer release (to put it into perspective, trailers for this summer’s new Transformers movie were appearing in December).
Anyway, a day after stars Elba and McConaughey engaged a Twitter exchange that was either genius marketing or some really kinky roleplay, that trailer is here. And it looks… not great, Bob! A few cool moments, yes, but some genuinely worrisome elements, and a sort of blandly generic 2017 franchise-starter quality that probably isn’t what Dark Tower fans were hoping for.
But maybe it’ll be fine! We’ll all find out when it hits theaters on August 4.