After years in development hell, Sony Pictures finally picked up the Dark Tower movie rights last year and firmly greenlit a movie based on the first book, The Gunslinger. They have put the project on an accelerated timescale, hoping to begin filming before the end of 2016 for a potential late 2017 release. Casting is also underway, with Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey apparently the preferred choices for the roles of Roland of Deschain and the Man in Black.
The Dark Tower started life as a novel series by Stephen King, comprising The Gunslinger (1982), The Drawing of the Three (1987), The Waste Lands (1991) Wizard and Glass (1997), Wolves of the Calla (2003), Song of Susannah (2004) and The Dark Tower (2004). King followed this up with a stand alone side-novel, The Wind Through the Keyhole (2012), and plans at least one more side-novel in the series (about the Battle of Jericho Hill). Events, themes and characters from The Dark Tower also resonate through many of King's other novels, most notably The Stand and Eyes of the Dragon. However, it's considered possible that all of King's novels and short stories take place in the Dark Tower multiverse.
Studious including HBO, Warner Brothers and Universal have previously optioned the books, with J.J. Abrams and Ron Howard both slated to direct at different times and Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, Aaron Paul, Viggo Mortensen, Naomie Harris and Javier Bardem all considered for roles. Writers including Akiva Goldsman and Michael Verheiden have also been attached. The previous pitches centred around the idea of a trilogy of movies with two six-episode TV seasons airing between the movies, providing approximately eighteen hours to cover the seven main series novels.
The current project for Sony is apparently a single film to get things rolling, with any discussion of either sequels or spin-off TV series on hold until the film's performance can be assessed. Goldsman is still writing, along with by Jeff Pinkner and Anders Thomas Jensen. Danish film-maker Nikolaj Arcel is currently slated to direct. Sony have an aggressive release date of January 2017 in mind, although this is likely to change as production is not yet underway and normally a year is required for post-production alone.