Apparently Universal has finally pulled the plug on the extremely ambitious ‘Dark Tower’ project according to Deadline.

Stephen King’s 7 novel series was to be translated into 3 films and a television series with director Ron Howard (‘Da Vinci Code’) and writer/producer Akiva Goldsman (‘Lost In Space’) in charge. Now that ‘Harry Potter’ is done, Christopher Nolan’s ‘Batman’ trilogy is almost finished, ‘Superman’ sounds a bit iffy and the ‘Green Lantern’ was a dud, Warner Bros. should pick this up as a new long-term franchise.

Universal had already been fighting about the budget for the first film while the filmmakers wanted a full budget committment to the entire project. Javier Bardem (‘No Country For Old Men’) has been secured to play the lead character.

While Stephen King is certainly a household name and over the last 40 years has sold tens of millions of books, television and film adaptations of his work  have had mixed results at best. Even though many top filmmakers have been involved in these adaptations, many versions have been difficult to successfully translate to other media. In an email to Entertainment Weekly King had this to say “”I’m sorry Universal passed, but not really surprised. As a rule, they’ve been about smaller and less risky pix; maybe they feel it would be better to stick with those fast and furious racing boys. I bear them no ill will, and trust Ron Howard to get Roland and his friends before the camera somewhere else. He’s very committed to the project.”

While most studios do prefer to do movies they deem “safe”, the scope of this project goes way beyond a typical tent-pole film. This project makes the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy look safe. And yesterday director Ron Howard announced a new project, ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’, that probably has a better chance of going before cameras before the ‘Dark Tower’.

This follows on Universal’s recent passing on ‘At The Mountains of Madness’ with Guillermo del Toro (‘Hellboy’) attached to direct Tom Cruise based on the HP Lovecraft novel. However, Universal has recently greenlit several projects that leave many film fans scratching their heads. This includes ‘Battleship’ based on the classic board game and the Keanu Reeves-starrer ’47 Ronin’. Both films are rumored to have budgets in the $200 million range with large marketing budgets as well.

About ‘The Dark Tower’:
The story focuses on Roland Deschain who is the last living member of the gunslingers and the last of the line of “Arthur Eld”. His world fuses feudalism, advanced technology, and parts of the American Old West, but with magic. Deschain’s quest is to find the fabled Dark Tower that is the gateway to all of the disparate universes including his own missing world.