The film adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower had an unremarkable showing at the box office, not exactly bolstered by the bad reviews with titles like “What The Hell Happened?” Stephen King even spoke about what he thought was “the real problem” with the movie, namely that the studio wanted a PG-13 movie targeted to audience members aged 12 or older. Now producer Ron Howard has spoken about the “mistake” they made with The Dark Tower.
On the most recent episode of the Happy Sad Confused podcast hosted by Josh Horowitz, Ron Howard explained, “I think it should’ve been horror. I think it landed in a place, both in our minds and the studio’s, that it could be PG-13 and sort of a boy’s adventure. I really think we made a mistake.”
Yes, in a movie where Idris Elba (The Gunslinger) and Matthew McConaughey (The Man In Black) were available, they decided to center it around the boy, Tom Taylor (Jake). There was nothing wrong with Taylor’s performance, but why focus on a ka-tet instead of The Gunslinger? Ron Howard, co-producer Akiva Goldsman, and director Nikolaj Arcel were already trying to fit an introduction to such a sweeping story into only 95 minutes of screentime, so why not center it completely on the The Gunslinger? Howard was forthright about the misstep:
“I’m not sure we could’ve made this movie, but I think if we could’ve made a darker, more hardboiled look and make it the Gunslinger’s character study more than Jake[‘s]. In retrospect, I think that would’ve been maybe more exciting. We always felt like we were kind of holding back something, and I think at the end of the day it was that. The other thing might have been to just straight on tackle it as television first, I don’t know. [It was] disappointing, because I poured a lot of myself into it and sometimes this happens on these projects, where everybody [has the] best intentions, you’re all pulling in a direction, and then you sort of say, ‘Was that the right direction?’ I wouldn’t say it was all a compromise. I do think it was just a sense of maybe too much listening to what you think the marketplace is calling for instead of really the essence of what Stephen King was giving us.” [transcribed by SyFy]
That’s fair. And we’re pretty sure what Stephen King was giving them wasn’t, “The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed, but first, let’s talk about this kid who’ll be introduced in the third book for a long time for some reason.”