Stephen King: Yes, there might be big changes in the Dark Tower movie

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May 18, 2016

The author has advice for fans concerned about changes in  the film version of The Dark Tower: Deal with it.

With a film version of The Dark Tower shooting right now (it still amazes me to say that, actually) under the direction of Nikolaj Arcel, speculation online has ramped up regarding just how faithful the movie is going to be to King's surreal combination of horror, sci-fi, dark fantasy and Western. Odd casting decisions and rumors about the script taking elements from later books for this first movie have contributed to the unease.

Well, King himself has finally weighed in, appearing with Arcel on the Sirius/XM show "Behind the Scenes with Anthony Breznican" to discuss the first in what is hoped to be a series of films adapting the eight-book cycle (the full show is below). And guess what? King said that, yes, there are going to be changes from the text, which won't be based strictly on the first book, The Gunslinger:

"It starts sort of in medias res, in the middle of the story instead of at the beginning, which may upset some of the fans a little bit. But they will get behind it, because it is the story."

According to Birth.Movies.Death, the rumored script that is being shot now contains elements of five books from the series: The Gunslinger, The Drawing of the Three, The Waste Lands, Wolves of the Calla and The Dark Tower. So while the primary storyline -- which has the gunslinger Roland (Idris Elba) in pursuit of the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey) with both headed for the magical structure that holds all of reality together -- may be retained, diehard fans might also see a lot of stuff that they wouldn't imagine popping up until a second, third or seventh movie. Arcel also says that a lot of the first movie will take place in "our world, the modern day world."

At least one thing hasn't changed, however: King says he insisted that the movie begin with the iconic line that opens the first book: 

"I expect that the movie will start where the books start. Y'know, 'The man in black fled across the desert, and the Gunslinger followed.' I think that nails it right in place for people...I've been pretty insistent on that, and I think everyone's on board with it."

Will all of this work, and will fans recognize this movie as King's The Dark Tower? We won't know for some time, but the fact that King himself is showing his support for the project may indicate that he's comfortable to some extent with a less faithful adaptation. And as we've said before, some books simply don't lend themselves to a straight translation from page to screen: In those cases, the movie can succeed if it captures at least a few major aspects of the story along with its general tone and themes.

Will The Dark Tower fall into the latter category? We'll find out on Feb. 17, 2017. In the meantime, do King's comments ease your mind or make you more concerned?

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