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  • Writer's pictureRob Binns

Mike Flanagan's Dark Tower Adaptation: Everything We Know So Far (August 2023)

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

When it comes to adapting Stephen King properties, Mike Flanagan clearly has the Midas Touch.

The Salem-born filmmaker – whose filmic renditions of King’s Gerald’s Game (2017) and Doctor Sleep (2019) were both critically well received, even if their takings didn't quite meet studio expectations – is also behind an upcoming on-screen translation of King’s novella Life of Chuck (published, in 2020, as part of the collection If It Bleeds.

Mike Flanagan at the Tribeca Film Festival

Mike Flanagan: already the face behind two successful King adaptations, with more in the works.

The biggest headline hogger, though, is that, in December 2022, Flanagan announced he had secured the rights to Stephen King’s self-professed magnum opus – an eight-book series by the name of The Dark Tower. (Horror just might have heard of it.)

The collection – which also contains a short story and a children’s book, Charlie the Choo-Choo – blends genres and bends expectations, fusing Western, horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy into a pulsating, petrifying epic journey. It follows Roland, a ‘gunslinger’, on a J.R.R. Tolkein-inspired quest to the titular tower: an edifice and endpoint that’s both a literal and a metaphorical goal.

So – what do we know about the Mike Flanagan Dark Tower adaptation so far?

First up? It’s going to be a series – with several seasons planned.

This is good news, and makes sense – having already released The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, Midnight Mass, The Midnight Club, and (soon) The Fall of the House of Usher – Flanagan is playing in a familiar box of sand. Plus (as we say with Sony’s misguided, ill-fated 2017 Elba/McConaughey vehicle The Dark Tower) singular films just don’t do their length, unwieldy source material justice. (That wasn’t The Dark Tower’s only flirtation with the big screen, though: The Walking Dead’s Glen Mazzara had plans for a sprawling, multi-season undertaking with Amazon Prime scrapped; perhaps due to the extent to which the 2017 film, critically and commercially, failed.)

Idris Elba as Roland and Tom Taylor as Jake in The Dark Tower 2017

Initially, Sony's The Dark Tower (2017) soured the property for many big studios.

Early murmurings indicate Flanagan is planning to do five initial seasons, plus an extra two standalone movies.

Second? Flanagan, along with his producing partner Trevor Macy, is teaming up with Amazon Studios to make this thing.

Given the big budgets we know they have (and that 2022’s Rings of Power showed they’re willing to use), this involvement gives me high hopes as to how the new The Dark Tower series will look, sound, and feel.

Third? For Flanagan, this is a passion project.

"The pilot script is one of my favourite things I've ever gotten to work on," Flanagan said in December 2022, when he announced the series was in the works. "It's been surreal working on that. So we've been floored and grateful that Stephen King trusts us with such an undertaking, something so precious to him, and we hope to find the right partners to realise it."

Fourth, and finally? The project has stalled, due to ongoing strike action from the WGA (Writers Guild of America) and SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists).

Still, Flanagan seems buoyant.

“I feel really good about where we are,” Flanagan said, speaking on an August 2023 episode of The Kingcast. “Oddly, where we are at the moment is completely frozen, because of the strike. We had a wonderful spring with it, and we’re making enormous progress on the project.

“I have every reason to believe that on the other side of the strike, it’s going to be priority one. We have some really exciting actors circling it that I can’t talk about, and some really, potentially groundbreaking, approaches to the filmmaking of it that I can’t talk about.

“What I can say is that any fears I had that the momentum we’ve gained was going to be obliterated…I don’t worry about that. We’re in a healthy place, and we’re in solidarity with the WGA and SAG. Once those more immediate needs are taken care of, and everyone’s back to work, that’s where I’ll be immediately deployed.”

The Dark Tower artwork: Roland approaches the titular edifice

Will King fans ever see their beloved characters and colourful locales on their favourite streaming services? Mike Flanagan hopes to make it happen.

So, King fans – that’s everything we know for now. All that’s left to do is watch this space, literally: I’ll be revisiting this page every month with the latest news and updates to keep you in the loop with everything you need to know about Mike Flanagan’s upcoming The Dark Tower series for Amazon.

Chussit, chissit, chasset. Buh-bye!


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