Ryan Lambie

Aug 3, 2017

We had high hopes for the adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, but early reviews are more than a little disappointing…

A project over a decade in the making, The Dark Tower promised to be a dark fantasy epic. Based on Stephen King’s voluminous book series, it’s a sprawling story that takes in elements of a western, horror and Tolkien-style myth-making – just the kind of fodder that could become its own live-action franchise.

Sadly, early reviews haven’t been kind at all so far, with the Hollywood Reporter describing it as “generic and cobbled together”, and Uproxx comparing the adaptation to the infamous Jonah Hex. That’s only a very brief sample, too; if you’re into the whole score aggregation thing, The Dark Tower has so far garnered a worryingly low 18 percent on Rotten Tomatoes – worrying, because Hollywood studios have grown increasingly concerned about the site’s ability to affect their movies’ ticket sales.

Warning signs emerged before The Dark Tower‘s review embargo lifted, with Variety publishing a report suggesting that the film had tested badly in early previews. So badly, in fact, that the movie was extensively reworked in the editing room to clarify certain plot points. This would at least explain why an adaptation of such a huge story would wind up as a surprisingly compact 90 minute film, and why its release date was moved back more than once.

According to Variety’s report, the presence of two studios with clashing visions was at least partly to blame for the behind-the-scenes conflict – “Too many cooks in the kitchen” is how one anonymous insider described the situation.

Given that The Dark Tower is supposed to kick off a TV series, due to appear next year, the reception so far isn’t too encouraging. But with the film’s budget pegged at a relatively lean $60 million, and its opening weekend tracking to make about $25 million by itself, it might not all be bad news. And besides, TV may yet prove to be the best venue to relate King’s complex and ever-changing saga.

More on The Dark Tower – including our review – as we get it.

The Dark Tower hits UK cinemas on the 18th August.