Over the weekend, The Dark Tower, based on the novels by Stephen King, took a nosedive at the box office. What was supposed to be the kickoff to a multi-film franchise landed with a thud. Our own Mike Ryan was baffled by the film, the result of a decade or more in production limbo. While fans of the books might find comfort in the fact the film opened at #1 and enjoy some dark humor in The Dark Tower’s $19 million USD haul (the number 19 is highly important to the books), it wasn’t exactly the win Sony had pictured.
But the studio has managed to find the silver lining. As reported by Deadline, some audiences who watched The Dark Tower opening weekend were subjected to an interesting exit poll. Conducted by MRC (the production company in bed with Sony for the television spin-off), the survey gauged audience interest in seeing the world of The Dark Tower moved to the small screen. The results? 83% of respondents had positive feedback about the idea of a spin-off series.
Deadline did some math, and with a $19 million opening weekend, an 83% positive result would result in approximately 4.5 million viewers tuning in to watch The Dark Tower on their TV and/or laptop. Of course, this whole venture is uncharted terrain. No one has ever attempted to start a franchise as a film and then pivot immediately into a television show. Sure, past sci-fi/fantasy films have ended up on TV. The final Divergent installment will be a made-for-TV movie, Buffy the Vampire Slayer began life as a cult film, and so on. But none of those projects began with the intent to become TV shows. This was always the plan for The Dark Tower. And if the exit poll numbers hold steady, it looks like Mid-World may fare better in our living rooms than in the local cineplex.
Maybe HBO could jump on this? Partner with Sony and MRC to make the next great sci-fi/fantasy series. After all, there’s only a year left to milk the Game of Thrones cow, and Westworld can’t shoulder the load alone.