Hollywood is a creature of habit, so there’s an element of inevitability surrounding the renewed interest in adapting Stephen King stories for the screen. With 2017 having so far seen both ends of the spectrum in cinema – The Dark Tower failing at the box office, while It broke records – all bets are now off as we wait to gauge reaction to the adaptation of Gerald’s Game that’s about to arrive on Netflix. King himself has recently stoked the fire of curiosity, though, by suggesting to Vulture that brand new adaptations of The Stand and Salem’s Lot could be on the cards.
“There’s talk about doing The Stand as an extended TV series, possibly for Showtime or CBS All Access, and there’s been some interest in developing Salem’s Lot as a feature, probably because people are saying, “Well, we took an old miniseries called IT and turned it into a phenomenon, so maybe we can do it with something else.” Nothing succeeds like excess!”
There are two points to note here. Firstly, as an interviewee, King is renowned for the ease with which he shares details about projects that networks and studios might otherwise keep under wraps – and rightly so, since these are his stories. Secondly, it’s interesting to see which projects are potentially earmarked for the big screen, and which are routed to television.
The Stand is a gargantuan post-apocalyptic tale about the breakdown of society after a weaponized strain of the flu virus is accidentally released, and is perhaps best known for the fact that it ties in with The Dark Tower series through the character of Randall Flagg. This giant undertaking was previously adapted as an eight-hour miniseries in 1994, and further versions have since been long-rumoured.
Warner Bros. and CBS Films specifically began developing a feature length film version in 2011, and the names linked to directing that project included, variously, David Yates, Ben Affleck and Scott Cooper. Most recently, the ball was known to be in the court of filmmaker Josh Boone – but news of the adaptation now being an “extended TV series” suggests that a different version is now taking priority.
Salem’s Lot is less of a daunting adaptation in terms of size, and centres on a writer who returns to his childhood home to find that the residents are turning into vampires. This story has previously been adapted twice – in 1979 and in 2004 – and both took the form of a three-hour miniseries. It’s this project that King suggests is being developed as a feature film, as studios clearly view it as an effective way to cash in on the box office success of Andy Muschietti’s It.
The interesting part about a Salem’s Lot feature film will be the choice of director, given that Andy Muschietti is likely to now be focused on It: Chapter Two. Given the nature of the Salem’s Lot story, Jennifer Kent of The Babadook fame should certainly be on the shortlist.
As both these rumoured Stephen King adaptations begin to take shape, we’ll be watching closely for further details.