When Universal announced last year that an epic adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower was in the works, which would include a trilogy of feature films directed by Ron Howard and a two-season television series, it sounded like a massive undertaking — from both a creative and financial perspective. This week, the studio decided it was too massive and pulled the plug on the project, breaking the hearts of fanboys and King readers the world over.
From the beginning, some had wondered if Howard was the right director for the project — now, unless the filmmaker attempts to set the project up elsewhere (unlikely, as both Howard and his Imagine production company have a long history with Uni), we’ll never know. It seems that we can add The Dark Tower to the long list of proposed book-to-film adaptations by famed directors that never saw the light of day. We’ve assembled ten of them after the jump; add yours in the comments.
Heart of Darkness, directed by Orson Welles
When Orson Welles went to Hollywood in 1939 and made a heretofore-unseen dream deal with RKO Pictures (which gave him complete creative control over the films of his new Mercury film unit), he proposed, as his first film, an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, which his Mercury Theater on the Air radio program had adapted the previous year (above). Welles, already tinkering with ways to shake up the film form, didn’t want to just to a straight adaptation though: his concept for Heart of Darkness was a film done entirely in the subjective point of view — primarily from that of Captain Marlow, whom Welles planned to play himself (he may have also played Kurtz, since his Marlow would mostly be voice only). The project sounds fascinating, but the innovative shooting technique also pushed the picture’s budget estimates over the cap allowed by his RKO contract; though some make-up tests and other pre-production steps were taken, the picture was ultimately shelved. Welles ended up choosing another project as his film debut: Citizen Kane. (Read more about his Darkness, and read his script, here.)