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Executives at Universal are worried they've bitten off more than they can chew with Imagine Entertainment's sprawling, multi-film adaptation of Stephen King's seven-book 'Dark Tower' series. Sources tell Variety that while the adaptation is presently still moving forward at the studio, execs are considering their options due to budget concerns.

Director Ron Howard and his producing partners at Imagine announced ambitious plans for the series last fall. They intend to bring three 'Dark Tower' feature films to the big screen bridged by two TV series. Howard, who won an Best Director Oscar for 'A Beautiful Mind,' intends to direct at least the first film, due in May 2013, and is developing the first 'Tower' TV series for a 2012 debut.

Universal execs are debating whether to partner with another studio to help alleviate the budget concerns or may give up the rights entirely to allow Imagine to make the films and TV series at another studio.

King's 'Dark Tower' series has proven a challenge to bring to theaters. Before Imagine and Howard took on the project, J.J. Abrams and 'Lost' co-creator / executive producer Damon Lindelof optioned the rights for $19 -- a key number in the 'Tower' series -- but were unable to develop a take that met their standards.

'No Country for Old Men' star Javier Bardem is reportedly close to signing on to the project.