Mike Fleming

UPDATE: Media Rights Capital is in serious talks to take on The Dark Tower after Warner Bros declined to make what potentially amounts to three feature films and two limited run TV series. MRC’s Modi Wiczyk is a big fan of the Stephen King novel series, I hear, and the company is eager to capitalize on the positive momentum they got from developing and financing the Seth MacFarlane-directed summer sleeper hit Ted with Mark Wahlberg. MRC next has the Neill Blomkamp-directed Elysium with Matt Damon, and the company has the capital to back an ambitious project like The Dark Tower with director Ron Howard eyeing Russell Crowe as the gunslinger Roland Deschain and his quest to travel through a Western-style world woven with magic to find the Dark Tower, mankind’s only hope. Akiva Goldsman adapted the book and is producing along with Brian Grazer and Stephen King. Even though MRC was unavailable to comment, I expect this deal to make quickly. MRC has a distribution arrangement with Universal, but it’s unclear whether that studio would release the film. Universal developed it but passed on making the project before it moved to Warner Bros.

EARLIER, 5:02 PM: Warner Bros took the easy out and has passed on The Dark Tower, the ambitious multi-platform adaptation of Stephen King’s novel series. After getting an overhauled script from Oscar winning scribe Akiva Goldsman, the studio just balked on the project that Ron Howard wants to direct with Brian Grazer, Goldsman and King producing, and with their A Beautiful Mind star Russell Crowe being eyed to play the gunman Roland Deschain. Warner Bros follows Universal, which also bailed on making the project.

It’s something of an odd move for Warner Bros, given all the talk out there that with Harry Potter and the Chris Nolan-directed Batman movies over, the studio badly needs some franchise blood and keeps swinging and missing with its attempts to mint franchises out of its DC Comics stable of characters like Green Lantern and Jonah Hex. I just interviewed the author; King knows his way around a good story, and here is how he described what is waiting for whoever steps up to fund this movie: “The Dark Tower, to me, and I’m not unbiased because I’m the writer on this thing, but to me it looks like gold on the ground waiting to be picked up.” You need guts to find gold in this precarious time in the film business, and Warner Bros ultimately didn’t show any here. Peter Jackson is lucky that Bob Shaye ran New Line when he was down to his last chance to get The Lord Of The Rings made. If he was out pitching that movie today, I doubt that Jackson would have been able to persuade Warner Bros to say yes to what became a billion dollar franchise. I hope that Howard and his posse reload and try again, but this is a major setback for them.

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