Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Universal Pictures has pushed this year’s start date on the Ron Howard-directed adaptation of Stephen King’s mammoth novel series Dark Tower until February, I’m told. It was supposed to start this summer. The studio will work with the filmmakers to reduce the budget on a series that will include three feature films and two limited-run TV series. Universal has its own ticking clock: It must greenlight the film by July, or the rights revert back to the author and the filmmakers. Recent speculation had Universal contemplating putting the film in turnaround. That hasn’t happened, yet. Akiva Goldsman wrote the Dark Tower script, and Brian Grazer is producing with Goldsman. Javier Bardem has been set to play gunslinger Roland Deschain. The original plan by Universal, to mount a movie trilogy and limited-run TV series, is arguably the most ambitious Hollywood project since New Line and Peter Jackson shot three installments of The Lord of the Rings in one long shoot.