In an ambitious and somewhat unprecedented deal spanning its film and television divisions, Universal Pictures and NBC will produce a three-part film franchise and a TV series based on Stephen King's seven-book "The Dark Tower" collection.
Akiva Goldsman, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer -- the Oscar winning trio behind "A Beautiful Mind" and "The Da Vinci Code" -- will executive produce. Howard will direct and Goldsman will write the first film installment, as well as the first season of the TV series, which will debut shortly after that seminal movie.
King will also be listed as a producer.
An epic fantasy series, "The Dark Tower" spans multiple dimensions and eras, weaving many of King's previous works together. It has sold more than 30 million copies to date across 40 countries worldwide.
The acquisition itself -- announced by Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson and co-chairman Donna Langley, along with NBC Universal Television Entertainment chairman Jeff Gaspin and NBC prime-time entertainment president Angela Bromstad -- is novel in its scope in complexity.
In terms of similarly ambitious book-rights acquisitions, perhaps the only other comparable example was New Line's JRR Tolkoin's "Lord of the Rings" more than a decade ago.
So why a TV series, too?
According to the producers, the complexity of King's characters lent themselves to the kind of further examination that can only be developed on television.
"The worlds of Stephen King's 'The Dark Tower' series are richly detailed, inter-locking and deeply connected," Goldsman said in a statement. "By telling this story across media platforms and over multiple hours -- and with a view to telling it completely -- we have our bast chance of translating Roland's quest to reach the Dark Tower onto screen. We are proceeding with tremendous excitement, fidelity to the source material and, quite frankly, no small amount of awe at this opportunity."
Added Howard: "By using both the scope and scale of theatrical filmmaking and the intimacy of television, we hope to more comprehensively do justice to the characters, themes and amazing sequences King has given us."