The Dark Tower is a series of books written by American author Stephen King that incorporates themes from multiple genres, including dark fantasy, science fantasy, horror, and Western. It describes a “gunslinger” and his quest toward a tower, the nature of which is both physical and metaphorical. The series, and its use of the Dark Tower, expands upon Stephen King’s multiverse and in doing so, links together many of his other novels. King has described the series as his magnum opus. In addition to the eight novels of the series proper that comprise 4,250 pages, many of King’s other books relate to the story, introducing concepts and characters that come into play as the series progresses.
The series was chiefly inspired by the poem “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” by Robert Browning, whose full text was included in the final volume’s appendix. In the preface to the revised 2003 edition of The Gunslinger, King also identifies The Lord of the Rings, Arthurian Legend, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly as inspirations. He identifies Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” character as one of the major inspirations for the protagonist, Roland Deschain. King’s style of location names in the series, such as Mid-World, and his development of a unique language abstract to our own (High Speech), are also influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien‘s work.
In 2009, King announced an eighth book, The Dark Tower: The Wind Through the Keyhole; published in 2012, it is set between the fourth and fifth books of the series. December 7, 2009 saw the release of a spin-off online game titled Discordia. As of 2010 more than 30 million copies of the series have been sold in 40 countries. A live-action adaptation was announced in September 2010, consisting of alternating feature films and television series. The project was reportedly cancelled in July 2011, but in October 2011, it was announced that the film was still on track, and that the television series was slated to air on HBO.
On March 13, 2012, it was reported that Warner Bros. Pictures was interested in making at least the first film, and would be in prime position to green-light the TV element through its sister company, HBO. Javier Bardem was originally set to play Roland, but the role was subsequently offered to Russell Crowe. Initial reports indicated filming was going to commence as early as the first quarter of 2013. Warner Bros. has since passed on the project, but Media Rights Capital has picked up and has commenced production on afilm adaptation that is currently scheduled for release in February 2017 with Idris Elba as the lead character.
Stephen King saw the Dark Tower series as a first draft. He planned to rewrite it to eliminate continuity errors and possibly remove himself from the later books, but after revising The Gunslinger, he decided a rewrite for the entire series was no longer necessary.