Over the last forty years Stephen King has had over 70 books published, and more than 40 direct adaptations for film and television of these works. With those staggering numbers, it should come as no surprise that over the last couple of decades barely a year goes by without a new adaptation on the big or small screen lined up.
One of King’s collections of novels titled The Dark Tower; a science/fantasy/western series which has spanned nearly thirty years (with the latest book released next year) has been through film production hell for nearly just as long. Recently though, for three years it was purported that Lost runners Damon Lindelof, Carlton Cuse and recent blockbuster tsar JJ Abrams were to adapt the series for film and television simultaneously. Those plans fell through however, due to scheduling conflicts. Next in line was the incredible film-making trio behind Academy Award winning A Beautiful Mind (2001): director Ron Howard, writer Akiva Goldsman and producer Brian Grazer. In recent weeks it has transpired that their multi-platform vision was also undone by Universal Pictures’ backing out of the project due to its ambitious nature.
Whilst financial backing is still an issue behind funding a multi-film contract and coinciding television series (which is not that surprising given the tactics and risk that would come with such a proposal) this sort of thing is not unheard of though, so we may hear more on potentially one of the most anticipated adaptations ever soon enough.
Also coming up is another of King’s horror novels, Pet Sematary, which tells the story of a family who moves houses close to a pet cemetary which happens to exist above an Indian burial ground – Ensue exciting resurrection zombie stories. Pet Sematary was already made into a film in 1989 but Paramount has decided to give it another whirl with 1408 (another King adaptation) screenwriter, Matthew Greenberg penning the film and announced recently; Piranha 3D director Alexandre Aja has been signed on to helm the project – with no release date set but rumour that shooting will commence before Aja’s next film project Cobra: The Space Pirate begins production in 2013.
Another huge adaptation of King’s is that of post-apocalyptic infection epic, The Stand which received an acclaimed television miniseries in 1994. Recently, long-term screenwriter of the Harry Potter films, Steve Kloves (writer of all but the fifth instalment) and successful director of the final four Potter films, David Yates were announced to be teaming up for a trilogy based on the huge novel. Originally, I found myself to be sceptical of this development, given that Steve Kloves’ writing of the Potter adaptations generally felt rushed as if he was simply running through a series of key plot moments instead of taking the time to write an actual story. That was until he tackled Deathly Hallows. The news that The Stand is to be adapted into a multi-film franchise is a great move given the incredible writing that was seen in the final Harry Potter film once the story was split into two.
Finally, Stephen King’s latest book, 11/22/63 which sees a time traveller attempt to prevent the Kennedy assassination has been optioned for an adaptation from writer/director Jonathan Demme (The Silence Of The Lambs). Seeing as the book hasn’t yet been released no one can judge the story much further than the premise (below) but given the inclusion of such a revered writer and director so early on, 11/22/63 is almost sure to be yet another King novel success:
Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.
Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
With Stephen King being the high-profile writer he is and the fact that there hasn’t been a hugely commended adaptation of his in the last decade, developments amongst these films should certainly be on any cinema fan’s watch list – particularly news on The Stand for those who trust Warner Bros and the duo that defined Harry Potter on the big screen with anything. Sadly none of these adaptations have secure or even vague release dates but with names as big as they are behind the projects, gears will hopefully start spinning soon.