(Image: Michael Whelan)

[The following contains spoilers for both the Dark Tower books and the Dark Tower movie. If you prefer to avoid spoilers, abandon your quest and turn back now.]

Much like a black monolith in an endless field of roses that gets more and more intimidating the closer you get to it, the Dark Tower movie is slowly beginning to come into focus thanks to a big Entertainment Weekly cover story. The magazine itself, with Idris Elba’s Roland and Matthew McConaughey’s Man In Black on the cover, doesn’t come out until next week. But preview stories on the website are already dropping some surprisingly huge reveals about how the movie is going to differ from the books.

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For starters, Dark Tower author Stephen King tweeted an image back in May that—for various complicated reasons—seemed to suggest that the movie would be a sequel to the book series instead of a direct adaptation of it. The final book ends in a way that lays the groundwork for a follow-up without actually necessitating one, so the idea of the movie continuing that thread seemed like the kind of thing that would either be totally ridiculous or totally brilliant. Now, though, director Nikolaj Arcel has just come right out and confirmed that particular theory, telling EW that “the hardcore fans…will know that this is actually a sequel to the books in a way,” adding that it “has a lot of the same elements, a lot of the same characters, but it is a different journey.”

On that note, there’s another big change that Arcel is making to the books, but it’s more of a clarification about the kind of story he wants to tell in his movie than it is an actual difference. Apparently, though the plot won’t really be the same, Arcel considers his Dark Tower movie to be based on the first book in the series, The Gunslinger, which means Eddie and Susannah—two major characters who don’t appear until the second book—won’t be there. The roles haven’t even been cast yet, but EW says they’re “guaranteed” if The Dark Tower gets a sequel. (The same presumably goes for a certain little furry guy who joins the gang in the third book.)

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As for whether those sequels will happen, it all depends on if The Dark Tower is a hit. EW highlights that its relatively low budget “improves the likelihood of success,” and Arcel says that he thinks “the entire story deserves to be told and should be told.” He also adds that he’d be “disappointed” in both himself and the other people who worked on the movie if they didn’t get a chance to introduce Eddie and Susannah, noting that they’re “such a huge part of the story.”

That may not be great news for Dark Tower fans, but at least now we finally know why the movie has been casting a whole bunch of nobodies and not the characters who are actually important to the story. Plus, as Roland would say, “there will be sequels if Ka wills it.”

You can see EW’s Dark Tower cover below.

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