Universal Pictures and NBC Universal Television Entertainment is teaming up with Ron Howard to adapt Stephen King’s venerated fantasy saga The Dark Tower.

Howard will direct the first of a planned trilogy of features as well as the first season of the television adaptation in the latest addition to Universal’s slate as the studio searches for a hit franchise.

The Dark Tower is a sprawling saga combining sci-fi, fantasy, horror and adventures and follows Roland of Gilead, The Last Gunslinger, in a parallel universe quest to find the mythic Dark Tower. The core property comprises seven novels, short stories and comic book prequels.

Akiva Goldsman will adapt the properties and produce through his Weed Road Pictures with Howard and Grazer for Imagine Entertainment. Howard, Grazer and Goldsman will serve as executive producers on the television series for Universal Media Studios. 

Howard, Grazer and Goldsman are planning for the first film in the trilogy to be followed immediately by a television series that will bridge the second film. After the second film, the television series will pick up allowing viewers to explore the adventures of the protagonist as a young man as a bridge to the third film and beyond.

Kerry Foster will serve as executive producer on the first film for Weed Road Pictures along with Todd Hallowell and Erica Huggins for Imagine Entertainment.

“I’ve been waiting for the right team to bring the characters and stories in these books to film and TV viewers around the world,” King said. “Ron, Akiva, Brian along with Universal and NBC have a deep interest and passion for the The Dark Tower series and I know that will translate into an intriguing series of films and TV shows that respect the origins and the characters in The Dark Tower that fans have come to love.”

“Building a franchise home for The Dark Tower is an exciting opportunity for this studio, and we’re thrilled that Stephen has entrusted us to bring his beloved novels to the big screen,” Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson said.

“Stephen King is a brilliant storyteller who creates imaginary worlds that resonate with the broadest audiences across ages and demographics,” Jeff Gaspin, chairman of NBC Universal Television Entertainment added. “We are thrilled to partner with our colleagues in the film division and Brian, Ron and Akiva to bring Stephen’s vision to the largest audience possible through this innovative multi-platform collaboration.”

“We are excited to have found partners at Universal who understand and embrace our approach to King’s remarkable epic,” Howard said. “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 in The Dark Tower novels. It might be the challenge of a lifetime but clearly a thrilling one to take on and explore.”