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Stephen King opens up about disappointing Dark Tower adaptation, questions PG-13 rating

on December 22, 2017, 2:25pm

Stephen King had a banner year, what with the release of successful books like Gwendy’s Button Box and Sleeping Beauties as well as a slew of crackerjack film adaptations that include IT, Gerald’s Game, and 1922. His one misfire in 2017 was Nikolaj Arcel’s lame duck adaptation of The Dark Tower, which failed in its attempts to cram King’s bizarro epic into the traditional blockbuster mold. King’s previously offered up some thoughts as to why it didn’t work, but a new interview with Entertainment Weekly finds the horror author opening up even more about the film.

Though King said he’s fond of the creative team, he also noted that the filmmakers didn’t take his notes when he expressed concern that they were starting “pretty much in the middle” of the story. “Sometimes when people have made up their mind, the creative team that’s actually going to go and shoot the movie, it’s a little bit like hitting your fist against hard rubber, you know?” he said. “It doesn’t really hurt, but you don’t get anywhere. It just sort of bounces back. And I thought to myself, ‘Well, people are going to be really puzzled by this,’ and they were.”

(Read: Winning Gerald’s Game: Director Mike Flanagan on Stephen King and Adapting the Impossible)

He also criticized producing studio Sony, whom he credited with hobbling the film with a PG-13 rating and a misguided desire to cater to the “12 to 35” demographic. “So it has to be PG-13, and when they did that I think that they lost a lot of the toughness of it and it became something where people went to it and said, ‘Well yeah, but it’s really not anything that we haven’t seen before,'” he said.

Read his full thoughts below:

That brings us to The Dark Tower. I wrote a lot about this movie, and, well, it just didn’t work for me. And it clearly didn’t connect with people. But there was so much anticipation for it. Why did this thing that people love in book form fail to grab hold as a movie?
I liked everybody involved with that movie and I liked some of the casting choices for it. I liked Modi Wiczyk, the producer, the director, everybody. So you know I’m always careful what I say about it.

I understand.
But I will say this, okay? The real problem, as far as I’m concerned is, they went in to this movie, and I think this was a studio edict pretty much: this is going to be a PG-13 movie. It’s going to be a tentpole movie. We want to make sure that we get people in there from the ages of, let’s say, 12 right on up to whatever the target age is. Let’s say 12 to 35. That’s what we want. So it has to be PG-13, and when they did that I think that they lost a lot of the toughness of it and it became something where people went to it and said, Well yeah, but it’s really not anything that we haven’t seen before.

I agree. I think they tried to make it too much like other things, rather than embracing the strangeness and originality of it.
There was a decision made, too, to start it pretty much in the middle, and when they actually made the movie I had doubts about it from the beginning, and expressed them, and didn’t really get too far. Sometimes when people have made up their mind, the creative team that’s actually going to go and shoot the movie, it’s a little bit like hitting your fist against hard rubber, you know? It doesn’t really hurt, but you don’t get anywhere. It just sort of bounces back. And I thought to myself, Well, people are going to be really puzzled by this, and they were. So there was some of that problem, too.

While King didn’t comment on the potential miniseries that is apparently spinning off from the film, he hinted at the possibility that someone might be taking “another shot” at adapting the books. “That might happen. It might happen,” he said.

King also touched on his upcoming book, The Outsider, and a new novella, Elevation, that’s on the way. As for J.J. Abrams’ forthcoming Hulu series Castle Rock, King said he’s “as much in the dark as anybody else.” “I don’t know anything about it so I just hope it turns out really well,” he added. “It must be going okay. It’s typical J.J. There’s been nothing that I’ve seen in the press, or anything, about it.”

As always, the news is plentiful in the world of Sai King. Luckily, Consequence of Sound has its own Stephen King podcast for you to keep up with all the happenings. Subscribe to The Losers’ Club on iTunes.

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