Two movies based on Stephen King novels have been released in 2017: The Dark Tower and It. While It has currently earned $478 million from a $35 million budget, The Dark Tower only earned $110 million on a $60 million budget. And the celebrated author has an idea as to why these two films have decidedly different box-office outcomes.
The Dark Tower is based on an eight-novel/one-novella series written over 30 years, an epic western with magic and technology. As King told Vulture, “The major challenge was to do a film based on a series of books that’s really long, about 3,000 pages.”
But too much information and not enough screen time is only one of the film’s problems. King said, “The other part of it was the decision to do a PG-13 feature adaptation of books that are extremely violent and deal with violent behavior in a fairly graphic way.” In other words, the violence was integral to the storytelling, and watering down the book’s graphic scenes may have diluted the film’s impact. Screen Rant suggests that weak marketing may have been a part of The Dark Tower’s lack of success.
On the other hand, It was only the first film in a two-part series. The novel happens to have a second half, as the story is told with the same characters but at different points in time. Also, despite young characters, It takes its R rating and floats away with it. (The book deserves an X rating or NC-17. Seriously.)
King also mentions the upcoming Dark Tower TV series, albeit vaguely. “I’ve gotta say, the TV series they’re developing now … we’ll see what happens with that. It would be like a complete reboot, so we’ll just have to see.”
Here’s hoping the The Dark Tower small-screen outing gets a channel or streaming service that would do Roland the Gunslinger justice.