(Photo by Bob Mahoney/HBO)
For decades, prolific author Stephen King has provided a wealth of material for film and television studios hungry for original projects. While some of his decidedly tamer stories have been adapted into beloved classics like Under the Dome, Stand by Me and The Shawshank Redemption, he remains one of the world’s foremost purveyor of supernatural terror on the big and small screen, and thanks in part to the runaway blockbuster success of films like 2017’s It and it’s 2019 sequel as well as the TV fandom over shows like HBO’s The Outsider and Hulu’s Castle Rock, it looks like we’re in for another wave of King-mania in the coming years.
With that in mind, we’ve rounded up a handy list of every movie and TV series based on a Stephen King story or novel that’s either in the works or already scheduled to premiere in the near future. Read on for details on every upcoming and new Stephen King movie and TV adaptation.
What We Know: Based on King’s short story “Jerusalem’s Lot” from his 1978 Night Shift collection, this upcoming Epix drama series stars Schitt’s Creek’s Emily Hampshire and Oscar winner Adrien Brody. Set in the 1850s, it follows his character, a recently widowed father of three who relocates his family to his small, sleepy town in Maine. However, doing so means that he will have to confront the terrors and secrets that have haunted his family for generations. She plays an author on assignment who has writer’s block, a theme familiar to those who know King’s work.
What We Know: King has long been able to mine details of his own life for source material and his The Dark Half is no exception. Published in 1989 after it was revealed that he had written under the pen name Richard Bachman, this horror story imagines what happens if a writer’s pseudonym came to life and also happened to be blood-thirsty. A 1993 film version from director George A. Romero and starring Timothy Hutton fell flat and has a 56% Tomatometer score. A new film adaptation from director Alex Ross Perry was announced in 2019. No casting or premiere date has been announced.
News broke a few months before this announcement that Perry was also attached to write and direct a film adaptation of King’s 2003 short story Rest Stop. That story is a cat-and-mouse thriller involving two women.
What We Know: Not all of the Stephen King adaptations being produced are from the horror genre. This 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. It includes the narrative poem “The Bone Church,” which has been optioned for a TV series.
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 (He also starred in Hulu’s adaptation of the King-based Kennedy-centric miniseries 11.22.63). The script was to be written by Matt Rager, who has written several Franco-directed films already. Outside of that, there hasn’t been any recorded movement since.
What We Know: In 2019, Deadline reported that Hulu was attempting to pick up the epic fantasy novel adaptation baton waiting at the end of HBO’s Game of Thrones with a version of King’s 1984 novel (there’s even a dragon on the cover!). Novelist, writer and director Seth Grahame-Smith, who was a producer on both of the It movies, was writing the pilot and would serve as showrunner.
Like Drunken Fireworks, this story is not really part of the horror genre. Set in the fictional world of Delain, the book follows two young princes played against each other by a manipulative and Machiavellian magician who has also murdered their parents. Deadline suggested the project could be more young adult-focused than the bloody and nudity-heavy Thrones — which would make sense given Hulu’s previous success with shows like Looking for Alaska and Marvel’s Runaways.
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 that they would be bringing a new adaptation of the novel to the big screen with Scott Teems, who worked on the upcoming Halloween sequel Halloween Kills for them, penning the script. In December 2019, it was announced that The Vigil’s Keith Thomas would direct.
What We Know: The Expanse’s Thomas Jane and his producing partner Courtney Lauren Penn recently acquired the rights to this project, which has been idling for some time. Back in 2018, 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 Machete, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Other attempts had George Romero and then Tobe Hooper attached to direct.
The novel centers on a 1953 Buick Roadmaster, which 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 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.
(Photo by Warner Bros. courtesy Everett Collection)
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 (although, 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 one day get a proper Hearts in Atlantis movie.
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. It would 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.
What We Know: King’s 2019 novel was barely off the printing presses before a TV adaptation was announced. Writer David E. Kelley and director Jack Bender, who already had success partnering on adapting King’s Bill Hodges Trilogy of books into the Audience Network series Mr. Mercedes, are developing this book as a limited series.
The story follows a young boy with special powers who is kidnapped and sent to live in the titular institute, where a staff perform various experiments on him and other students. He escapes and a small-town sheriff is on the case. And if you think this sounds like Stranger Things, a show that has long referenced King’s early work, you are not alone.
“I like [Stranger Things] a lot, but it does owe something to It,” King told Rolling Stone when The Institute was released. “That’s another book about kids who are weak and helpless by themselves — but together can make something that is very strong.”
A network for the miniseries has not been named.
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 two Stephen King hits with a little story about a shapeshifting clown.
Nevertheless, Muschietti is still apparently attached to The Jaunt, which is based on a sci-fi short story set in the 24th century that is about an interplanetary teleportation journey gone wrong. Brad Pitt’s Plan B Entertainment optioned the 1981 story back in March of 2015 with Muschietti on board. In 2019, Muschietti told Consequence of Sound that he was still very much involved in this project, saying that “we finally have a writer that can do it” and that “it’s tough to crack because it’s such a great short story, and then you have to expand it into a great film narrative. It took awhile, but now I think we got it. I don’t want to tell too much.”
Muschietti also confirmed in that interview that he is involved in an adaptation of the novel Roadwork, which King published in 1981 under his Richard Bachman pseudonym. ZeroZeroZero’s Pablo Trapero would direct.
“Roadwork is definitely a more human drama,” Muschietti told the publication. “I always loved it. It’s not one of his biggest hits, but it always resonated and I can’t explain why.
What We Know: King’s bounty of material means that there is something for almost every TV network, as evident by an adaptation of his 2013 novel Joyland for Freeform. The network famous for shows like Pretty Little Liars and Grown-ish is developing this story that focuses on another young adult. In this case, Deadline reports, the plot will focus on “a college student who takes a summer job at an amusement park in a North Carolina tourist town, confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child and the way both will change his life forever.” Chris Peña (Jane the Virgin) and Cyrus Nowrasteh (The Stoning of Soraya M.) are writing the pilot.
What We Know: Another flashy project for new streaming service Apple TV+, this adaptation of the 2006 King novel of the same name stars Julianne Moore, Clive Owen and Joan Allen and includes producers like J. J. Abrams. Oh, and King himself is writing all eight episodes of the drama and will also executive produce (this isn’t the first time this has happened; King’s screenwriting credits also include the 1989 film adaptation of his Pet Sematary and the 1994 TV miniseries adaptation of The Stand). Moore stars as the titular Lisey Landon, the widow of an extremely successful novelist (Owen). It tells a version of events of her dead husband’s life as she remembers them and what her life is like now.
In 2017, King told Variety that Lisey’s is his favorite of his material and that he’d love to see a TV adaptation “especially now that there’s a kind of openness on the streaming services on TV and even the cable networks” and that “it’s tough to take a book that is fully textured and has all the wheels turning and do it in two hours and 10 minutes.”
What We Know: One of the other four novels that King published under the pen name, Richard Bachman, this 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 2018, New Line Cinema (who, of course, brought us It) nabbed them and signed James Vanderbilt (Zodiac, The Amazing Spider-Man, Independence Day: Resurgence) to write the script and produce. In 2019, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’s André Øvredal was brought on as director.
What We Know: In 2019, Deadline broke the story that a big-screen adaptation of Mile 81 was in the works with Alistair Legrand set to direct and co-write with Luke Harvis (the duo also collaborated on 2015’s The Diabolical’s). Since then, not much more is known.
This 2011 King novella relies on some of the author’s favorite topics, such as teens running amok, a small town in Maine and enemies on four wheels.
It is not to be confused with his 2008 novella, N. That one, which is also set in Maine and also deals with teens avoiding certain death — but has eight creepy stones harboring ancient evil instead of anything really to do with a car — is being developed as a TV series by Gaumont TV. Deadline reported in 2017 that the project would be called 8.
(Photo by ©Warner Brothers)
What We Know: You know what they say: All work and no play makes a streaming service … Anyway, new streaming platform HBO Max has given a series order to Overlook. Produced by J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot, the show is inspired by — and will feature — characters from King’s 1977 thriller The Shining and plans to “explore the untold, terrifying stories of the most famous haunted hotel in American fiction.” Bad Robot also produced Hulu’s Castle Rock, which is also based on King’s characters and locations.
(Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images)
What We Know: Way back in 2016, it was announced that New Mutants and The Fault in Our Stars director Josh Boone — a King obsessive who was also reportedly producing an adaptation of the author’s My Pretty Pony — had put pause on his plans to adapt the author’s The Stand while he focused on a version of the author’s 2014 novel, Revival. Not much more is known about the project, although Boone did write the forward for the book’s collectors edition that was released in 2019. The novel is about a fallen preacher who begins to experiment with the healing powers of electrical current and becomes dangerously obsessed.
What We Know: AMC is developing a television adaptation of Sleeping Beauties, the 2017 best-seller that King wrote with his son Owen. According to the logline, which was released during the winter 2020 Television Critics Association press tour, the project is set “in a small Appalachian town” where “there’s a strange mystical occurrence that causes all the women to fall asleep, leaving the men to try and rescue them. But do the women want to be rescued?”
No premiere date or casting has been announced. The project was first announced in April of 2019 — a few months before AMC premiered NOS4A2, a horror series based on a book written by King’s other son, Joe Hill.
What We Know: A new, flashy version of King’s 1978 post-apocalyptic hit will soon premiere on CBS All Access. Noted King enthusiast Josh Boone (gestures to various other places in this list) is directing the first and tenth episode of the miniseries and co-wrote the first episode with Ben Cavell (SEAL Team, Justified).
The plot focuses on what happens after a strain of influenza that the U.S. Department of Defense had been developing for biological warfare is accidentally released — and decimates most of the world’s population. James Marsden stars as Stu Redman, a gas station attendant who is somehow immune to the virus who takes up with some other survivors. Whoopi Goldberg plays Mother Abigail, their spiritual leader. Alexander Skarsgard plays Randall Flagg; a frequent baddie in King’s canon who in this case is a “dark man” who builds his own band of worshippers (Skarsgard is, of course, the brother of Bill Skarsgard, who played the villainous shape-shifting clown in It).
What We Know: After the success of the It remake in 2017, Variety reported that Sean Carter (Keep Watching) would be writing and directing an adaptation of this King short story. Published in Cavalier magazine in 1972 and later part of King’s Nightmares & Dreamscapes anthology, this piece follows an elementary school teacher who begins to notice that her students have some unique traits (think texture showing up below their skin and a conspiratorial way that they play at recess). Then mysterious deaths start happening in her small town.
What We Know: In 1984, Stephen King co-wrote a book called The Talisman with horror novelist Peter Straub. It’s 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. He held onto those rights for decades, revealing in an Entertainment Weekly interview in 2018 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 to write the screenplay in October of 2017. Much like Revival, there hasn’t been much movement on the project since then.
What We Know: In March of 2018, 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 It producer Roy Lee, on board to produce it. Some might recall that there was a 1993 ABC miniseries adaptation of 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 that 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.
Wan is also attached to produce a new film adaptation of King’s Salem’s Lot. The vampire novel has already seen a couple a other adaptations. Lee, along with Chris Romero and others, is also reportedly producing an adaptation of King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. Published in 1999, it follows a nine-year-old who gets lost on the Appalachian Trail.