Hitting theaters this past weekend was the long-awaited adaptation The Dark Tower, which aimed to bring to life the decades-long mythology of Stephen King's book series about Roland Deschain, the Man in Black, and their attempts at saving/destroying the world as we know it.
Financially, the film earned the top spot this past weekend, but with an estimated $19 million in box office, it was far from a blockbuster. Sadly, that box office number exceeded the film's score on review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes, putting the film at 18% positive reviews.
The Dark Tower is merely one adaptation of Stephen King's stories this year, with The Mist currently airing on Spike, Mr. Mercedes coming to the Audience Network this week, It hitting theaters on September 8, and Gerald's Game coming to Netflix at some point in 2017. Is it possible that Stephen King fully supports all of these adaptations wholeheartedly, or was he mostly interested in the paycheck?
During a recent press conference in Stephen King's hometown of Bangor, ME, the author shared some insight into what his thoughts were on this adaptation, fervent fandom, and casting decisions. Considering the press conference took place merely days before the film's release, the author was able to speak more candidly about the whole production without having to worry about being diplomatic.
"Purists may not like it."
Considering the vast amount of material that comprises the complete series, which spans eight novels, an attempt to bring to life that much material was nearly impossible. Instead, the filmmakers borrowed certain elements to make a quasi-sequel to the original story.
Nerdist reports that King is happy with how his material was adapted, saying, "They've done a wonderful job here telling a story that's coherent and that pulls a lot of the elements of the novel in The Dark Tower. Purists may not like it. I can't tell about that for sure, because it doesn't start where the book starts. But at the same time, they'll fall right into it because they'll know exactly what's going on."
King also elaborated how the original book series isn't the same tone as the rest of his works, explaining, "You have to keep in mind that of all the books that I've written, the fans of the Dark Tower books are the most zealous, the most fervent fans of all," adding, "But they make a small subgroup of the people who read books like The Shining and Misery, that sort of thing. [The books] are an acquired taste. They're fantasy."prevnext
"It never seemed like a movie idea to me."
Thanks to the successes of adaptations like Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings, many fans have been wondering why it's taken so long to adapt King's epic storyline into a live-action project, whether it be for movies or TV.
"I never really thought about it that much," King revealed. "There were times when people would express an interest in it and then it would go away again, and then interest seemed to come back around the time that Peter Jackson had success with the Lord of the Rings movies, and I thought, maybe! But it never seemed like a movie idea to me. It was complex and it was long."
Despite the film's underwhelming opening weekend performance, a live-action TV series is supposedly on the way, with a former The Walking Dead showrunner being announced last week as the one taking creative control of the series.prevnext
"I didn’t care what color he was as long as he could command a screen..."
For as excited as fans were to finally see the storyline come to life, they were equally as excited to find out who would play the iconic lead character, Roland Deschain, the part earned by Idris Elba. The original novels never gave the character an ethnicity, but had been depicted in various mediums as having light skin, a casting "controversy" which King attempted to completely dismiss.
"What I said in a tweet after all that discussion started was, I didn't care what color he was as long as he could command a screen, draw fast and shoot straight," King confessed of the casting decision. "So it doesn't make any difference to me, because I don't even really see people when I'm writing. If I'm writing about a character, I'm behind their eyes, unless they walk by a mirror or something I don't even really see what they look like."
"In a lot of the pictures, not only is he white but he's wearing a hat," King referenced about the differences between the source novels and adaptation. "I talked to the producers of the movie about that, and they said that Western movies where the main character wears a hat don't do well. And I said, 'Really? Well, Denzel wore a hat all the way through The Magnificent Seven and that did pretty good at the box office,' but they don't pay any attention to that."prevnext
"I was after them from the beginning..."
Audiences familiar with the source material were surprised to discover the film earned a PG-13 rating, as the intense subject matter was full of horrifying creatures and violence. However, King stands behind the lighter tone for a good reason.
"I'm totally signed off on that. I think it's the right thing to do, I want as many people to attend as possible for all kinds of reasons," King confessed.
One of the author's demands for the film was to incorporate the opening line of the original novel, "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed."
"I was after them from the beginning to get that line in there," he revealed. "Not for me, but for the people who have quoted it and stuff. It's strange to me that the line has become so important to people, because when I wrote it, it was just a line. It was a way into the story."prevnext
More 'Dark Tower'
The film's synopsis is as follows:
"The last Gunslinger, Roland Deschain (Elba), has been locked in an eternal battle with Walter, also known as the Man in Black (Matthew McConaughey), determined to prevent him from toppling the Dark Tower, which holds the universe together. With the fate of the worlds at stake, good and evil will collide in the ultimate battle as only Roland can defend the Tower from the Man in Black."0comments
The Dark Tower is currently in theaters.
Photo Credit: Twitter / @Varietyprev