The Dark Tower stars Idris Elba as “The Gunslinger,” a revolver-wielding protector of a fantastical world threatened by the “Man in Black,” an enigmatic sorcerer played by Matthew McConaughey. A young boy (Tom Taylor) finds himself in this otherworldly dimension and becomes entangled in the Gunslinger’s quest to save both his world and ours.

King’s story, an eight-book magnum opus inspired by The Lord of the Rings, defies categorization, mixing in elements of western, science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It’s far too elaborate to distill into a single two-hour film, so Sony won’t even try: The studio is planning a TV series to continue the story sometime after the film hits theaters in August.

The road to this point has been long and arduous, fitting for a tale about an epic quest spanning dimensions. The project has taken on many forms over its decade-long development history:

The film’s embattled history is not a great sign for its financial or critical prospects. Though there are exceptions, the track record for films that emerge from development hell leaves much to be desired. By the time they’re actually made, these films are often tainted by the input of too many cooks, and fail to reflect a singular vision. The trailer was not received well by book readers on Reddit.

📬 Sign up for the Daily Brief

Our free, fast, and fun briefing on the global economy, delivered every weekday morning.