Stephen King Speaks Out On Why 'The Dark Tower' Movie Failed

Author Stephen King, the mind behind The Dark Tower series of novels, says the recent big screen adaptation starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey failed because it was a PG-13 tentpole.

"I liked everybody involved with that movie and I liked some of the casting choices for it," King told EW. "I liked [Media Rights Capital producer] Modi Wiczyk, the producer, the director, everybody. So you know I'm always careful what I say about it."

"But I will say this, okay," King continued, "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,'" King explained.

King said his attempts to affect the creative course of the movie went ignored.

"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," King said.

"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."

The Sony release, from A Royal Affair director Nikolaj Arcel, grossed just $111 million worldwide on a $60 million budget. The Dark Tower pulled a 16% approval rating from critics and a 47% approval rating from audiences.

Former The Walking Dead showrunner Glenn Mazzara was tapped in August to helm a proposed Dark Tower television series, which will likely not involve Elba as Gunslinger Roland Deschain.

"That might happen," King says of the series, which Mazzara claimed would explore Roland's origins and adapt The Gunslinger, Wizard & Glass, and The Wind Through the Keyhole. "It might happen."


Another Stephen King adaptation, It, was released by Warner Bros. in September and became the highest-grossing horror movie of all time.

The Dark Tower is available on 4K and Blu-ray.