The Flanaverse

Stephen King’s most unfilmable epic is finally getting the treatment it deserves

The genre-bending series might be saved from development hell by Midnight Mass boss Mike Flanagan.

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Update 12/8/2022: Well, it’s official. In an interview with Deadline, Mike Flanagan and his producing partner Trevor Macy confirmed that they’re adapting Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. This looks to be Flanagan’s most ambitious project to date, with plans for a five-season series followed by two movies to tell the full story. It’s unclear if Dark Tower will wind up at Amazon, though that certainly seems possible given the duo’s recent move from Netflix to Prime Video.

Flanagan and Macy’s production company, Intrepid Pictures, actually scored the rights to Dark Tower before going into business with Amazon, but say that “changes in our relationship” with Netflix caused them to jump ship. The duo also points to Prime Video genre projects like The Rings of Power and The Boys as proof that Amazon is more than capable of handling this new project.

“We actually have those rights carved out of our Amazon deal,” Flanagan said, “which doesn’t mean that they [Amazon] 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.”

It’s still early days for Mike Flanagan’s Dark Tower adaptation, but the horror master says he’s already written a pilot he’s “thrilled with,” mapped out a “very detailed outline for the first season and a broader outline for the subsequent seasons,” and has “enormous amount of it worked out in my brain.”

“The pilot script is one of my favorite things I’ve ever gotten to work on,” he added. “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.”

Speaking of King, Mike Flanagan apparently has the original author’s blessing and says he earned the rights after sending him an outline for his Dark Tower adaptation. “He’s been very, very supportive and very excited about what we’d like to do with it,” Flanagan said.

For more info on Mike Flanagan’s horror chops and why he’s the right person to take on The Dark Tower, read our original article from December 6 below.

Mike Flanagan put himself on the map with a 2017 adaptation of Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game.Netflix

Netflix’s Mike Flanaverse has come to an end, but this isn’t the end for his style of scary storytelling. The spooky series auteur, alongside his longtime collaborator Trevor Macy, will bring the Flanaverse to Amazon Prime Video.

Hot off the tails of Flanagan’s most recent creation for Netflix, The Midnight Club, Amazon poached the duo for an exclusive multiyear deal. Though the show apparently performed well for Netflix, The Midnight Club was canceled mere hours after the Amazon pact went public.

The reasons why Flanagan left Netflix for Amazon are ambiguous. He has a good history with Netflix, enjoying a string of miniseries successes with The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass. The Midnight Club was slated to be Flanagan’s first multi-season show, and he’s indicated his displeasure with Netflix’s decision to cancel its sophomore season.

Midnight Club fans may be heartbroken, but the Flanaverse will only get bigger with Amazon’s backing. Notably, Mike Flanagan is down to adapt Stephen King’s seven-novel Dark Tower series, which Amazon Prime Video bought the rights to in 2018. Inverse reached out to Amazon to confirm they still retain the development rights, and while the answer was a vague “some,” that’s better than nada.

The Dark Tower hasn’t had luck in Hollywood, earning it the dreaded “unfilmable” label. A 2017 film starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey was ridiculed by critics and fans for trying to squeeze nearly all seven books into one clunky, horrendously paced movie.

King’s 4,250-page, multi-genre behemoth is considered an uphill battle given its narrative complexities and many metatextual references to the author’s other works. The story follows Roland Deschain, the last living member of a knightly gunslinger order heavily inspired by both Arthurian legends and classic American Westerns. Roland’s world shares aesthetic characteristics with the Old West and the Middle Ages, but it’s magical and high-tech too. It’s also literally coming apart: Places on the map are disappearing, time is misbehaving, and the sun isn’t rising or setting properly. Roland’s mission is to find the Dark Tower, which could save his world from destruction.

It would be an incredibly challenging project, but The Rings of Power demonstrated that Amazon doesn’t lack ambition.

THE INVERSE ANALYSIS — If there’s anyone who could tackle The Dark Tower, it’s Mike Flanagan. He’s proven that he understands Stephen King, having adapted both Gerald’s Game and Doctor Sleep, the latter earning accolades from King himself. In an IGN interview, Flanagan noted that he’s already been thinking about how to produce the show.

“The first scene would be a black screen and the words, ‘The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed’ would come up in silence, and you’d hear the wind, and we’d gradually fade up to this Lawrence of Arabia-esque landscape with a silhouette in the distance just making his way across the hardpan. And we would build it out from there — in order — to the end.”

Again, this is just Flanagan saying that he wants the job, not an announcement that he has it or that Amazon is interested in pursuing an adaptation. But the pieces are falling into place.

The Midnight Club was canceled by Netflix after one season. Netflix

Flanagan still has other book-to-screen adaptations on his docket, including The Fall of the House of Usher for Netflix and The Season of Passage for Universal Pictures. We have no idea how he’ll continue to expand the Flanaverse on Amazon Prime Video — will it be a Dark Tower series, the ill-fated Season 2 of The Midnight Club, or something else entirely? Whatever the result, we’re excited to see what comes of the multiyear contract.

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