What happens when you’re behind some of the most beloved and successful ‘Harry Potter‘ films in the massively successful franchise? When it’s over, you get your pick of the litter. With “Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” now the highest grossing film of 2011 — $1.1 billion in ticket sales worldwide and counting — Warner Bros. is anxious to stay in the David Yates business. A couple of weeks ago it was reported that Yates was having a sit down with the studio and would be presented with four projects to consider: “Cicero,” a mooted trilogy that would potentially star Tom Hardy as Al Capone; another potential trilogy in an adaptation of Stephen King‘s “The Stand” which has the WB teaming with CBS Films produce; “Fables,” an adaptation of the Vertigo graphic novel centered around revamped fairy tale characters; and a big screen version of “This Is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper. Well, it looks like Yates has no problem returning to a sprawling franchise, only this time with a slightly older audience in mind.
According to HitFix, Yates is finalizing a deal to direct a multi-film adaptation of “The Stand” with ‘Potter’ collaborator and writer Steve Kloves to pen the screenplay. Kloves has also been a favorite on the WB lot, not only for penning ‘Potter’ but for adapting “Akira” into a tentpole they are still trying to get off the ground. While Universal ultimately bailed on their hugely ambitious plans for King’s other sprawling epic, “The Dark Tower,” this venture cold see the studio catering to a huge segment of King fans who have been wanting a big screen outing in quite some time (though “Bag of Bones” is currently being made into an A&E miniseries with Pierce Brosnan).
The book follows a virus that kills off 99% of the world’s population, and a pack of survivors who come head to head with another group led by Randall Flagg, a creature of pure evil with supernatural powers. George Romero worked on a film version in the 1980s, as did “Excalibur” scribe Rospo Pallenberg, but it never came together. The only adaptation of the work so far is the 1994 six-hour ABC miniseries starring Gary Sinise and Rob Lowe. That version is respected by fans but as you can see from the trailer below, it’s dated and certainly could use the budget and resources a big screen version could apply.
It’s an interesting move by Yates, indicating that he’s enjoying storytelling on a big canvas. Casting for this will likely be a big deal, as King fans will certainly be vocal about the types of names that would be sought for the central characters, starting with Randall Flagg. Still lots more to come, but it looks like where “The Dark Tower” fell, “The Stand” is rising.