After months of will-they-or-won't-they speculation, Universal has passed on Ron Howard's adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series. The ambitious project called for three films and two short-run TV series. The studio had postponed the start of production from this summer until February in order to trim the budget, but ultimately decided either a) the budget couldn't be trimmed enough, or b) if it was trimmed, they wouldn't like the movie they ended up with.

Producer Brian Grazer, out of solemn respect, will be keeping his hair at half-mast all week.

Javier Bardem was attached to star as gunslinger Roland Deschain, though it's not immediately clear what this development does to his involvement. One would think that he's a busy guy, but this project might be one that is worth hanging around for if it ever finds a home. Universal has a seemingly full slate of blockbusters on deck, so taking a chance on such an enormous undertaking doesn't really seem to be in the cards right now.

Ron Howard has both Rush and the recently-announced Spy vs. Spy on the horizon, so it looks like he won't be missing a beat with this disappointing news.  (Deadline)