The gunslinger’s journey to The Dark Tower has hit a detour.
A film version of Stephen King’s apocalyptic saga was originally set for release on Feb. 17, but now will shift to the summer of 2017, sources close to the film tell EW. UPDATE: Sony has informed distributors that the new release date will be July 28.
The movie stars Idris Elba as Roland the Gunslinger and Matthew McConaughey as a sorcerer known as the Man in Black, both of whom are on a quest to reach the mystical tower that stands at the nexus of countless dimensions.
Principal photography for the Nikolaj Arcel-directed film wrapped on schedule in late July, but the plan to have a completed film ready to screen six months later proved to be overly ambitious. Now, Sony Pictures and production company MRC have decided post-production can’t be finished in that timeframe and are about to inform theater owners of the change.
Sources close to the movie tell EW it’s a matter of needing deadline extensions on the visual effects, as well as more lead-up to promote the film.
A trailer leak last month featured mostly rough visual effects, and the filmmakers have discovered that the aggressive February timeline isn’t enough time to get the sci-fi/fantasy epic into shape, given its financial constraints. The film has a surprisingly low cost of about $60 million, and the choice was either to add millions more to the budget to speed up the work, or push to a later date. “It’s a very fiscally responsible budget, and trying to stay in budget to make money and stay profitable means the VFX won’t be finished in time [for February],” one source tells EW, on condition of anonymity. “Now that there’s more time, they’re not paying rush charges to get the effects where they need to be.”
This also will allow more time to publicize the movie, which hopes to become a multi-film franchise, with a spin-off TV show already in the works.
Only four months from release, there’s still no trailer. And the film recently dropped out of EW’s PopFest a week before the fan gathering, with the studio indicating the footage set to be previewed wasn’t ready. Ever since, fans have been speculating that the movie might be wavering on its February target.
Sony and MRC did not immediately return requests for comment.
The story of The Dark Tower, which King has unspooled over seven novels, a handful of short stories, and even a comic book series, is a mix of gunplay and magic, a fusion of genres ranging from science fiction and horror to Westerns and Tolkien-esque fantasy.
Mounting a film adaptation has been almost as epic a quest, with J.J. Abrams attempting a version years ago, then Ron Howard, who nearly got the greenlight before it proved to be too costly a gamble for most studios. With Arcel (best known for the Danish film A Royal Affair) at the helm, Howard has stepped back to produce.
King is not directly involved but has served as an unofficial consultant on the project. Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, who won the Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, wrote the script with Arcel and co-writer Anders Thomas Jensen.
Fans of the novels can take heart that the film has been shot and is definitely still moving forward. The destination, much like the Tower in the story, has just turned out to be further off than anyone realized.
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