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Every Upcoming Stephen King Movie Adaptation

We look at all of the new movies based on the prolific horror writer's work that are either coming soon, recently announced, or languishing in development.

by | October 30, 2018 | Comments

Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros.
(Photo by Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros.)

For decades, prolific author Stephen King has provided a wealth of material for film studios hungry for original projects. While some of his decidedly tamer stories have been adapted into beloved classics like Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, he remains the world’s foremost purveyor of supernatural terror on the big screen, and thanks in part to the runaway blockbuster success of last year’s IT, it looks like we’re in for another wave of King-mania in the coming years.

After Andy Muschietti’s adaptation of King’s novel about a shapeshifting, child-eating clown blew the doors off last September, Hollywood has kicked into maximum overdrive to snatch up whatever King property might make for a viable feature film. With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a handy list of every movie based on a Stephen King story or novel that’s either in the works or already scheduled to hit theaters in the near future. Read on for details on every upcoming and new Stephen King movie adaptation.


COMING SOON

Pet Sematary (2019)

Release Date: April 5, 2019

What We Know: If you’re looking to give movie audiences more Stephen King, the easiest thing to do is to go with a remake (or reboot, or whatever you want to call it). With that in mind, the next big title we’ll see with King’s name attached to it is Pet Sematary, which was first adapted for the big screen in 1989 by King himself. The story revolves around a young family that moves to Maine and learns that the pet cemetery located in the forest near their home possesses rather extreme restorative powers for the recently deceased.

Jason Clarke (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes), Amy Seimetz (AMC’s The Killing), and John Lithgow headline the cast, and it’s directed by the duo of Kevin Kölsch and Dennis Widmyer, who together helmed 2014’s Starry Eyes and a segment in the 2016 horror anthology film Holidays.


It: Chapter Two (2019)

Release Date: September 6, 2019

What We Know: After IT outperformed expectations to become the biggest R-rated horror hit ever, it was clear that a sequel would be in order. That wasn’t just because the first film was a success; fans were quick to point out that IT only covered half of Stephen King’s novel of the same name, namely the half that centered on the main cast of characters as children. There’s a second half to the story that catches up with the Losers Club 30 years after their initial encounter with Pennywise, and that’s what IT: Chapter Two will cover.

The adult cast of Chapter Two will include Bill Hader, James McAvoy, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Jessica Chastain, who previously worked with director Andy Muschietti on horror film Mama. Bill Skarsgård, who recently starred in the Stephen King-inspired Hulu series Castle Rock, will return to play Pennywise in the new film, which will attempt to break all kinds of records again when it premieres next September, almost exactly two years after the first film opened.


In the Tall Grass (2019)

Release Date: 2019

What We Know: In 2012, King co-published a novella with his son, Joe Hill, called In the Tall Grass, about high school siblings named Cal and Becky who embark on a road trip together when Becky reveals she’s pregnant to her parents and they suggest she go live with their aunt and uncle until the baby arrives. In the middle of their trip, the pair comes across a field of — you guessed it — tall grass, where they hear the cries of a young boy, get out to investigate, and discover they’re unable to find their way out.

When the film was initially announced as a Netflix pickup in May of this year, James Marsden (X-MenWestworld) was in negotiations for the lead role, but scheduling conflicts forced him to leave the project, making way for the casting of Patrick Wilson as a replacement. The movie is being directed by Vincenzo Natali (CubeSplice), and it began filming this summer with the intention of a Netflix release sometime in 2019, though we don’t yet know exactly when.


Doctor Sleep (2020)

Release Date: January 24, 2020

What We Know: It’s no secret that King himself was critical of the 1980 Stanley Kubrick adaptation of his novel The Shining – so much so that he wrote and produced a new adaptation in the form of a TV miniseries in 1997. In 2013, King then published a sequel to The Shining called Doctor Sleep, focusing on the character of Danny Torrance, now grown up and dealing with alcoholism himself. The story follows Danny as he encounters a cult called the True Knot that feeds off children who possess “the shining” like he does, and attempts to protect a young girl with the shining from True Knot fanatics.

The film will star Ewan McGregor as Danny, with Rebecca Ferguson, Bruce Greenwood, Zahn McClarnon, and relative newcomer Kyliegh Curran rounding out the cast. Director Mike Flanagan, who’s recently been on a tear with Hush (91%), Ouija: Origin of Evil (Certified Fresh at 82%), and the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House (Certified Fresh at 93%), and who’s had experience successfully adapting Stephen King’s work (Netfli’x Gerald’s Game, Certified Fresh at 90%), will helm Doctor Sleep, and it will be a direct adaptation of the source novel, as opposed to a sequel to Kubrick’s film. It’s set to open in early 2020.


RECENTLY ANNOUNCED

N/A

The Tommyknockers

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: In March of this year, we got the first of several Stephen King-related movie announcements. The Hollywood Reporter revealed that a new adaptation of the 1987 novel The Tommyknockers was in the works, with the Conjuring universe’s James Wan and one of the producers of IT, Roy Lee, on board to produce it. Some might recall that there was an ABC miniseries in 1993 that adapted the book, which focuses on the discovery of an alien spacecraft in a small town and its dangerous otherworldly influence over the people who live there. As it happens, Wan and Lee are also teaming up with producer Larry Sanitsky, who produced that 1993 miniseries.

Just about a month after that initial announcement, Universal actually won a fierce bidding war to distribute the film, and just this past August, Jeremy Slater (writer The Lazarus Effect, 2015’s Fantastic Four, and Death Note) signed on to adapt the novel. Outside of these developments, no new details have emerged.


The Long Walk

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: During a period from 1977 to 1984, Stephen King published four novels under a pen name, Richard Bachman, later explaining that he did so both to circumvent an unwritten publishing rule that authors should be limited to publishing one book per year, and to explore whether or not it was his writing or his name that was bringing him success. He went on to write three more books under Bachman’s name after his secret identity was outed, but one of the original novels was a science fiction tale called The Long Walk. The story takes place in a dystopian future America, where a ruthless dictator holds an annual contest in which 100 teenage boys are randomly selected to participate in the titular endurance contest until only one remains alive.

In 2007, Frank Darabont, who had already made The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile and had just completed The Mist, acquired the film rights to The Long Walk, as it was a bit of a passion project for him. Unfortunately, those rights lapsed before he ever got the chance to make the film, and in April of this year, New Line Cinema (who, of course, brought us IT) nabbed them and signed James Vanderbilt (ZodiacThe Amazing Spider-ManIndependence Day: Resurgence) to write the script and produce — Vanderbilt is also a big fan of the book and wrote a few drafts of a spec script on his own years ago.


Firestarter

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: In 1984, a post-E.T. Drew Barrymore starred in an adaptation of King’s 1980 novel Firestarter, which told the story of a young girl named Charlie born to psychic parents who possesses the ability to control fire with her mind. Like E.T., Charlie becomes the target of shady government types who seek to weaponize her unique talent, and of course, things eventually spiral out of control.

Perhaps partially inspired by the recent popularity of Stranger Things, Universal and horror super-producer Blumhouse announced in June that they would be bringing a new adaptation of the novel to the big screen. They also announced that Scott Teems, writer on SundanceTV’s Rectify, will pen the script, and acclaimed German director Fatih Akin (Head-OnIn the Fade) has been hired to helm the project, which will be his first major studio film. Otherwise, further details are yet to be revealed.


From a Buick 8

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: Back in July, Deadline reported that King’s best-selling 2002 novel From a Buick 8 had been optioned by Ashok Amritraj’s Hyde Park Entertainment, which has produced films like MacheteGhost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, and an upcoming co-production with Blumhouse called Prey. The announcement also came with the news that William Brent Bell had been tapped both to write the script and direct the film; his previous work as director includes 2006’s Stay Alive (6% on the Tomatometer) and 2016’s The Boy (28%). The novel centers on a 1953 Buick Roadmaster that has been locked away in a Pennsylvania State Police storage shed for decades, until it draws the attention of the surviving son of a state trooper who was killed en route to a call involving the same Buick. This, of course, isn’t the first “evil vintage car” story written by Stephen King that has been made into a movie — one of the earliest adaptations of his work was John Carpenter’s Christine in 1983, which centered on a possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury.

A big-screen version of From a Buick 8 actually went into development sometime around 2005, with first George Romero and then Tobe Hooper attached to direct, but those efforts fell through due to financing issues. This new adaptation is unrelated to those previous efforts, and all we know about it so far is the involvement of Hyde Park and William Brent Bell.


IN DEVELOPMENT

The Talisman

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: In 1984, Stephen King co-wrote a book called The Talisman with horror novelist Peter Straub, about a 12-year-old boy who possesses the ability to move seamlessly between our world and a parallel world known as the Territories. Steven Spielberg actually bought the rights to the book in 1982, even before it was published, because he liked the story so much, and he held onto those rights for decades, revealing in an Entertainment Weekly interview earlier this year that he was “hoping to get this movie made in the next couple of years.”

As it happens, Spielberg’s own Amblin Entertainment signed director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars, next year’s New Mutants) to write the screenplay in October of 2017, so there has been some movement on it. The only catch? Boone is busy finishing up New Mutants, and besides that, he’s also attached to two more Stephen King properties: Revival (more on that below) and a new adaptation of The Stand as a miniseries for CBS All-Access. Who knows when anyone will actually get around to making The Talisman?


Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection
(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)

Hearts

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: Remember that Anthony Hopkins movie from 2001 called Hearts in Atlantis? You know, the one that features a young Anton Yelchin and centers on Hopkins’ mysterious character who has telepathic and telekinetic powers? Well, that film was actually based on two of the stories collected in the book of the same title, neither of which were the one that provided the book’s title. Thanks to a couple of filmmakers who are Stephen King fans, however, we may actually get a proper Hearts in Atlantis movie in the future.

In September of 2016, Variety announced that director Johannes Roberts and his frequent writing partner Ernest Riera planned to adapt the short story “Hearts in Atlantis” as a new coming-of-age film called simply Hearts, which will be set in 1966 and focus on the experiences of a group of University of Maine students who become addicted to the card game Hearts and discover that the rest of their lives are falling apart. Roberts and Riera previously brought us The Other Side of the Door and 47 Meters Down, but this is expected to be more in line with King adaptations like Stand By Me or The Shawshank Redemption.


Drunken Fireworks

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: As evidenced by titles like Hearts and, to a certain extent, The Talisman, not all of the Stephen King adaptations being produced are horror films in the traditional sense. Chalk this one up as another example. The story centers on a heated rivalry between a mechanic and a mob boss who engage in a battle of wills over who can produce the more impressive Fourth of July fireworks display. Drunken Fireworks is based on a short story of the same name from a collection of fiction titled The Bazaar of Bad Dreams, which also includes a narrative poem called “The Bone Church” that’s being developed as a television series.

As for Drunken Fireworks, Deadline reported in June of 2016 that James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Productions and Rubicon Entertainment were planning on adapting the story into a film with Franco on board to star and potentially direct. The script was to be written by Matt Rager, who has written four Franco-directed films already. Outside of that, there hasn’t been any movement since.


Michael Kovac/Getty Images
(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)

Revival

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: A few entries above, we mentioned that The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone had been tapped to pen an adaptation of The Talisman, but before he gets around to that, he still has to shepherd New Mutants to the big screen, and there’s already another Stephen King project he wants to complete first. That project is a film adaptation of Revival, the best-selling 2014 novel about a fallen preacher who begins to experiment with the healing powers of electrical current and becomes dangerously obsessed.

According to a February, 2016 exclusive obtained by Deadline, Boone had already written a script for the film, which he was looking to direct, and he’d already spoken to some actors about signing on for lead roles. Boone is a huge lifelong fan of Stephen King, and it was apparently King himself who turned Boone onto Revival, which had been optioned by producer Michael De Luca, as the pair went back and forth over Boone’s ideas for The Stand. This is clearly a passion project for him, but further details have yet to be released.


The Jaunt

Release Date: TBD

What We Know: This one’s been sitting in development longer than any of the others, so it’s anyone’s guess how long it’ll be before it makes its way to the big screen, even with the people reportedly involved with it, namely director Andy Muschietti, who of course has already had a Stephen King hit with a little story about a shapeshifting clown. Nevertheless, Muschietti is still apparently attached to The Jaunt, based on a sci-fi short story set in the 24th century about an interplanetary teleportation journey gone wrong.

Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston’s Plan B Entertainment originally optioned the 1981 story back in March of 2015 with Muschietti on board to write and direct, but that’s about all the movement we’ve gotten on this one, given that Muschietti has been busy with ITIT: Chapter Two (set to open next September), and, just announced, the Attack on Titan movie. We may not see this one for a while, and if it finally does happen, it may not be Muschietti at the helm.

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