The Culture Movies

Hollywood returns to King with ‘The Dark Tower’

Stephen King movie and TV adaptations are nothing new, but interest seems particularly high this summer and fall as movie projects like 'The Dark Tower' and TV series like 'Mr. Mercedes' arrive.

Idris Elba stars in 'The Dark Tower.'
Ilze Kitshoff/Sony Pictures

Massively successful author Stephen King has been writing bestselling books for so long that Hollywood has been adapting his works for generations. But this summer and fall will mark a particularly high point as multiple film and TV projects based on King’s creations make their way to both the big and the small screen. 

A high-profile adaptation, “The Dark Tower” – a western-fantasy mashup based on King’s book series – is now in theaters. A movie version of “It” will follow shortly after on Sept. 8. 

Meanwhile, a TV version of novella “The Mist” will conclude later this month on Spike; the Audience network will première an adaptation of “Mr. Mercedes” on Aug. 9; and Hulu has announced a series titled “Castle Rock” (one of King’s fictional towns), though an air date has not yet been announced.

“They’re certainly very well told, cinematic stories...,” Mark Evan Schwartz, associate professor of screenwriting at the School of Film & Television at Loyola Marymount University, says. “They are huge bestsellers [and] they seem to cross genres.” 

But Professor Schwartz is unsure whether “The Dark Tower” will find an audience. “I don’t know the budget of the film, but I can imagine it must have been massively expensive to make,” he says. “And it’s such a fantastic sort of mashup of genre, I wonder about its suitability as a feature.” Television, he suggests, would perhaps have been a better fit.

Schwartz thinks “It” will perform well at the box office, though, in part because of its similarities to a TV phenomenon. “I think that it’s perfectly timed because of the television series ‘Stranger Things,’ ” he says. “And ‘Stranger Things’ was brilliant. And there are similarities there: the small-town setting, the ensemble of boys, bicycles, and creepy things happening.” (The two projects also share an actor, Finn Wolfhard.) “I think it’s going to be a big hit,” Schwartz says.

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