February 3, 2023

Stephen King’s seven-book epic fantasy series, The Dark Tower, is slowly turning into one of Hollywood’s White Whales. There have been more than a few attempts to set up the story as a series of movies, TV shows, but none have gotten very far (and that includes the one that actually released a theatrical movie). But it seems that a new effort, led by horror author and former Netflix ace Mike Flanagan, may have the best chance yet of actually working, especially since Flanagan has been preparing for this moment for years.

Like many previous attempts to get a Dark Tower series off the ground, this one would feature a mix of TV and movies. As Flanagan says, his version would be five seasons of TV, with two feature films to wrap up the story.

Flanagan’s passion for the series is one thing, but what’s perhaps more impressive is the specificity of his resume and how well it prepares him for the project. Flanagan started his career in the movie business directing movies like oculus, Quietand Ouija: Origin of Evilbefore moving to television for a while and making shows like The Ghost of Hill House and Midnight Mass. Flanagan is also a big fan of Stephen King and has already made some of his work into movies. With a career this varied, it seems like Flanagan was always headed for The Dark Tower.

Whether he designed his career that way on purpose or not, we’re sure adapting The Dark Tower has always been Flanagan’s goal. In the interview with Deadline where Flanagan announces the project, he calls it his “Holy Grail”. And in a previous interview with IGN, he discussed how he would adapt the series, including trying to “ground” some of the more difficult and meta elements of the novels.

Mike Flanagan stands in front of a wooden house with antlers and a lifesaver on it.  He leans against the railing.

Photo: Eike Schröter/Netflix

It’s not shocking to learn that Flanagan would try to ground The Dark Tower rather than lean into its weirder elements; After all, being grounded is his mode of choice, whether he’s dealing with vampires, ghosts, or sibling rivalry. And while that may be a little disappointing for Dark Tower fans, who enjoy even the weirdest parts of the series – which we won’t spoil here – it’s also probably a necessary evil to get such a ridiculous and expensive project off the ground. to get. . And to Flanagan’s credit he has plenty of work to suggest he could make a fantastic Dark Tower series.

Perhaps his best work to date is King’s director’s cut Appears sequel novel, Doctor Sleep. Though the book is an uneven and strange entry into King’s expansive fiction, never quite figuring out its own universe and stubbornly refusing to take the slightest influence from Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1980s film adaptation, Flanagan’s adaptation is a work of supreme alchemy.

He combines both the character and feel of Kubrick’s masterpiece while taking elements of the story that were more important to King, such as exploring Jack’s alcoholism as a direct parallel to the Overlook’s persuasiveness and deadly power. Flanagan takes the alcoholism theme through Jack’s family tree to Danny (beautifully played by Ewan McGregor, in his best performance yet) and drags the psychic adult back to Kubrick’s vision of the Overlook Hotel.

While making Kubrick and King’s stories work together isn’t exactly like adapting an epic fantasy series, this process of combining King’s work and finding ways for his different characters and universes to interact and match is, one of the things that makes the Dark Tower great. Plus, Flanagan’s penchant for complex character interactions and excellent dialogue should be perfect for writing the Ka-Tet’s more intimate moments as the small band of adventurers travel the worlds.

Of course, none of this is to say that Flanagan’s Dark Tower project will be absolutely awesome, or even that it will happen at all. But if anyone gets a chance to get through with this complicated amalgamation of movies and TV series, and actually make it right, it’s probably Mike Flanagan.

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