In an interview with Deadline, Flanagan and Macy, known for their extensive film and TV work in the horror genre, break the news that they have acquired the rights to the mammoth book series, which draws from multiple genres including dark fantasy, science fantasy, horror and Western. Flanagan reveals that he has written a pilot script and season outlines for The Dark Tower, which he has described for years as his dream project. He has even shared in interviews his vision for the opening shot, a black screen with the words "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed," leading to a landscape with a silhouette in the distance.
DEADLINE: Speaking about projects based on well-known IP, is there something you have in the works in that area?
FLANAGAN: You're the first person we're saying it to, but yes. Predating our deal with Amazon, we acquired the rights to The Dark Tower, which if you know anything about me, you know it has been my Holy Grail of a project for most of my life. We actually have those rights carved out of our Amazon deal, which doesn't mean that they can't or won't get behind it at some point — you don't know. But that's something we've been developing ourselves and are really passionate about finally getting it up on its feet at some point.
DEADLINE: How far along are you in the development? Mike, you have shared your Dark Tower vision in interviews, so you must have at least a synopsis in mind. Are you planning to pitch the project around town?
FLANAGAN: I wrote a pilot, we view it as a as a series that's going at least five seasons. And having lived with this project as long as I have, I have an enormous amount of it worked out in my brain. But I have a pilot script I'm thrilled with and a very detailed outline for the first season and a broader outline for the subsequent seasons. I think eventually, if we're able to get it going, there are some other writers I want to fold into that process whom I've worked with before; I think they would be really fabulous for a very small, intimate writers room where we can continue to break it.
I'll tell you, more than half of my life, I've closed my eyes and been able to watch a lot of this play out, I've dreamed about this. That first shot which comes right off at the first incredible sentence of the first book, The Gunslinger, I've had that image just rattling around in my head since I was an undergrad. It's going to have to get out of there eventually, I really need to get it out of my head.
The pilot script is one of my favorite things I've ever gotten to work on. It's been surreal working on that. So we've been floored and grateful that Stephen King trusts us with such an undertaking, something so precious to him, and we hope to find the right partners to realize it.
DEADLINE: Have you had conversations with Stephen King about The Dark Tower over the years and more recently when you were acquiring the rights? Have you discussed with him your plans for bringing the books to the screen?
FLANAGAN: Absolutely. This happened because I sent him a very, very detailed outline of what I wanted to do with it. And it was in response to that, that he gave us the rights. A project like this, I wouldn't want to be involved in it at all If we were taking it in a direction that was going to be blasphemous to the Stephen King material, but he's been very, very supportive and very excited about what we'd like to do with it.
DEADLINE: Initially, more than a decade ago, there were grand plans for a Dark Tower integrated film and TV universe. Is your adaptation strictly a television series?
FLANAGAN: Well, to be honest, the way that I have seen it breaking out is five seasons of television, followed by two stand-alone features. But I think our priority has been trying to get the television side of it going first. We're not going to put the cart too far ahead of the horse on such a challenging project, but that I think is the perfect way to do it.
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