Sometimes it’s hard to stay on top of everything that’s going on in the Stephen King Universe. There are so many projects underway or about to get underway or that could possibly some day get underway that it boggles the mind. This is a new Golden Age for King, especially when it comes to the various adaptations of his work to screens large and small, silver and otherwise. I’m here to help you keep track!
The Outsider was released in late May and shot to the top of the bestseller lists. If you haven’t seen it already, you can find my review here. This is one of the more interesting takes on the novel: Stephen King Just Wants to Tell Stories. His Readers Want Trump-Era Resistance. On the day the book came out, PEN America honored King for “Lifelong Contributions To Literature And Commitment To Free Expression.” You can see Morgan Freeman introduce King and listen to his speech here.
Shortly before The Outsider came out, King posted a new 32-page story, “Laurie,” on his website. It’s still there, and you can read the pdf here. Also released recently is his relatively rare story “The Blue Air Compressor,” which can be found in the anthology Shining in the Dark, celebrating 20 years of Lilja’s Library.
Coming up next is Flight or Fright, the anthology of scary flying stories I co-edited with King. That book will be released on September 4. In addition to a batch of stories by other great authors, the anthology contains a new King story, “The Turbulence Expert,” an introduction and individual story notes by King. There’s a hardcover from Cemetery Dance and an audio edition from Simon and Schuster audio, in addition to a hardcover from Hodder & Stoughton in the UK, all available on the same day. I recently recorded my afterword to the anthology for the S&S audiobook.
Then, on October 30, we get the new Castle Rock novella Elevation. Also sometime this year (I think), the “legendary” story “Squad D” will finally see print in Shivers VIII.
Misery is getting the signed limited edition treatment. Suntup Editions is issuing this book in three states: an Artist Gift edition, a Numbered/signed edition and a Lettered/signed edition. All three measure 7.5” x 10.5”, and feature eight new full-color illustrations by Rick Berry, whose also contributed illustrations to the Donald M. Grant editions of The Talisman and Black House.
In other publication news, Marvel has lost the rights to continue to produce the Dark Tower graphic novels to Gallery 13, a division of Simon and Schuster. Gallery 13 will be publishing the renamed Beginnings prequel graphic novels every two weeks starting with The Gunslinger Born on August 14. The Gunslinger novel adaptation will publish in Spring 2019. There’s been no news regarding the possibility of the series starting up again after they get through The Drawing of the Three.
Last year, an editor from the Poetry Foundation asked if I’d be interested in writing an essay about King’s relationship with poetry. I agreed it would be something worth exploring. My article came out in May. You can read it here.
Pet Sematary is available for the first time in unabridged audio, read by Dexter’s Michael C. Hall.
On Father’s Day, Owen King wrote about Recording Audiobooks For My Dad for The New Yorker.
A couple of new books (one out now, one forthcoming), explore different aspects of King’s work. First, there’s Douglas Cowan’s America’s Dark Theologian, which is the first full-length treatment of the religious themes in King’s work, reviewed here. (Note: Billy Chizmar explored “The Role of Religion in Stephen King’s Desperation” in Reading Stephen King.) I contributed an essay to Stephen Spignesi’s forthcoming book Stephen King: American Master, which will be published by Permuted Press in October.
That takes care of all of the print publications that we currently know about. Let’s switch gears to the moving pictures part of this update, starting with the projects that are most definitely in production, with real and confirmed release dates and everything!
First up, Castle Rock, the anthology series that debuts on Hulu on July 25, with three of the ten episodes showing up on that day. I’ve seen the first four episodes already and I’m eager to gain access to the rest. I’m not going to say a lot about it yet — check back next week for my full report — but suffice to say that King fans should really enjoy it. It’s not laden with references to King works, but there is a nice smattering of them strewn throughout, and the opening credits should keep people busy for a while, trying to figure out what all is being referenced there. This is a single story being told over ten episodes, unlike a series like, say, Haven, where every episode told a self-contained story. Subsequent seasons will explore different stories with a different cast, in the same vein as shows like Fargo.
Then, a month later, on August 22, we’ll get the first episode of season 2 of Mr. Mercedes. I’ve seen the first two episodes; the show picks up moments after the end of season 1 and goes straight into the End of Watch main story, with additions and changes, although it does include some plot elements from Finders Keepers. At San Diego Comic-Con, they will be hosting an immersive experience with Mr. Mercedes-inspired adventure games, escape room, panels, and a sneak peek. There are unconfirmed reports that Season 1 may come out on DVD around the time Season 2 debuts.
Production is currently underway for two cinematic adaptations, both of which have release dates and both of which are filming in Canada.
Filming began recently for Chapter 2 of It. The adult members of the Losers Club have been cast as follows: Jessica Chastain (Beverly Marsh), James McAvoy (Bill Denbrough), Jay Ryan (Ben Hanscom), Bill Hader (Richie Tozier), James Ransone (Eddie Kaspbrak), Isaiah Mustafa (Mike Hanlon), and Andy Bean (Stanley Uris). In addition, these cast members were recently announced: Will Beinbrink (Tom Rogan), Jess Weixler (Audra Phillips), Teach Grant (Henry Bowers), and Xavier Dolan (Adrian Mellon). The latter makes it seem like the movie will be very faithful to the novel. The movie will be out on September 6…2019. Seems like a long way away.
The cameras are also rolling in Montreal on the remake of Pet Sematary. The cast includes Jason Clarke (Louis Creed), John Lithgow (Jud Crandall), Amy Seimetz (Rachel Creed), Jeté Laurence (Ellie Creed) and twins Hugo & Lucas Lavoie (Gage Creed). This movie will be out next year, too. It was originally announced for April 19, 2019, but there have been indications that it has been moved up to April 5.
Billy Chizmar will direct a movie called Trapped from a script written by his dad, our very own Richard Chizmar, based on a story by King and himself.
Now we come to the “theoretical” adaptations portion of our program. The following film/TV adaptations have been announced, but none of them have started filming:
- Mike (Gerald’s Game) Flanagan’s adaptation of Doctor Sleep has been fast-tracked by Warner Bros. The release date has been announced — January 24, 2020 — and Ewan McGregor will star as adult Danny Torrance. Rebecca Ferguson (The Greatest Showman) is also in negotiations to play Rose the Hat.
- MRC is planning a 10-episode series based on The Outsider, a project that was announced only a couple of weeks after the novel came out. Richard Price (The Wire, The Night Of) will write the pilot, which will then be pitched to possible networks.
- Scott Beck & Bryan Woods, the writers behind A Quiet Place, have pitched a film version of “The Boogeyman” to Twentieth Century Fox. If this comes to pass, it will take that short story off the Dollar Baby program, where it has been filmed at least seven times.
- The Dark Tower TV project is with Amazon, but the project isn’t moving forward quickly. It’s not dead, but it will be a while before we see anything.
- “The Gingerbread Girl” has been optioned by Brainstorm Media. Craig R. Baxley (Storm of the Century) will direct the film from a screenplay he is cowriting with King. Casting is reportedly under way.
- Vincenzo Natali (Hannibal, Hemlock Grove) will direct “In the Tall Grass,” the novella King cowrote with Joe Hill. Principal photography is scheduled for September in the Toronto area. James Marsden was reportedly in talks to star in the film.
- James Vanderbilt (Truth, The Amazing Spider-Man) has written an on-spec script for The Long Walk for New Line Cinema. Frank Darabont’s option to the Bachman novel lapsed and Vanderbilt was able to acquire them.
- A remake of The Tommyknockers is being developed by James Wan (Aquaman) and Roy Lee. Universal won rights to this remake in a bidding war, beating out Sony and Netflix.
- I found a post on my message board from eight years ago saying Universal wanted to remake Firestarter. They finally assigned a director to the project: Fatih Akin, who will work from a script by Scott Teems.
- The Stand remake has switched gears from a multi-film adatpation to a 10-hour limited series at CBS All Access. Josh Boone is still attached to the project.
- Chris Long and David Ayer’s Cedar Park Entertainment has acquired Stephen King’s poem “The Bone Church” and will develop it for series.
There. Deep breath. I think that’s everything worth mentioning. That should keep us going for a while, shouldn’t it?
Check back next week for my preview of Castle Rock!