It’s a good time to be a Stephen King fan (and, financially speaking, it’s a very good time to be Stephen King), as the master of horror’s many works have gotten new blood thanks to a slew of successful adaptations, from the box office record-breaker “It” (soon to be extended with a sequel!) to a number of streaming outlets getting their King fix to long-rumored adaptations finally coming to fruition. While much-hyped feature films like “It: Chapter Two” and “Doctor Sleep” gear up for 2019 releases and a pair of quite different series based on King’s works are preparing for new seasons, it seems like a new King adaptation is announced every week.
Case in point: in just the past two weeks, two King-inspired offerings have gotten the green light, with indie filmmaker darling Alex Ross Perry taking on a big screen version of short story “Rest Stop” just days after Julianne Moore announced she’d be starring in an Apple+ series inspired by “Lisey’s Story.” That’s to say nothing of a number of other features in the works, additional series that have been announced, and a handful of short films that cover every inch of King’s decades-long writing career.
Here’s everything that’s in the works from King’s prodigious career, from completed projects to other offerings that continue to tease their creation.
Completed and Continuing Films
“It: Chapter Two”
Andy Muschietti’s much-anticipated followup to his 2017 box office smash hit “It” will arrive on September 6. The second part of the latest adaptation of King’s beloved 1986 novel will bring back original cast members, including “Stranger Things” favorite Finn Wolfhard, but the upcoming sequel is also getting some major star power as the adult members of the Losers’ Club are being played by Jessica Chastain (Beverly), James McAvoy (Bill), Bill Hader (Richie), Jay Ryan (Ben), Isaiah Mustafa (Mike), James Ransone (Eddie), and Andy Bean (Stan). Additional new cast members include Xavier Dolan, Jake Weary, and Jess Weixler.
First footage from the fall release freaked out CinemaCon crowds earlier this month, and riding off the huge success of the first film (it was, after all, the highest grossing horror movie in history), “It: Chapter Two” and its return to the terrors of Derry might become the biggest King adaptation ever.
Just two months after “It: Chapter Two” terrorizes audiences, rising horror star Mike Flanagan’s “Doctor Sleep” will hit theaters on November 8. The sequel to “The Shining” pulls from the 2013 King novel of the same name, and sets Ewan McGregor as a grown up Danny Torrance, left to grapple with the meaning of his special “shine.”
In the new film, Danny is now an alcoholic whose attempt to get sober reawakens his “shining” powers. Torrance meets a young girl who shares the supernatural ability while working at a hospice center. First footage shown at CinemaCon was brief, but indicated that the film will offer many nods to the first film, as it promised to offer a “conclusion” to the Torrance saga. In addition to McGregor, “Doctor Sleep” also stars Rebecca Ferguson, Carl Lumbly, and Alex Essoe.
“In the Tall Grass”
Also likely on deck for this year: a Netflix-backed adaptation of the 2012 novella of the same name that King wrote alongside his similarly prolific son Joe Hill. Written and directed by “Splice” filmmaker Vincenzo Natali, the story follows a brother and sister who, after hearing what sounds like a young boy crying for help from a vast Kansas grass field, go searching for him, only to realize they may not be able to escape.
The film stars Patrick Wilson, Laysla De Oliveira, Harrison Gilberston, Avery Whitted, Rachel Wilson, and Will Buie Jr. It does not yet have a release date, but Netlix is reportedly eyeing a 2019 date for it.
Just announced earlier this week, “Her Smell” filmmaker Alex Ross Perry is on deck to write and direct an adaptation of King’s 2003 short story of the same name. Initially published in Esquire, “Rest Stop” won the National Magazine Award for Fiction in 2004. It also appears in King’s 2008 story collection “Just After Sunset.” According to Variety, the film will be a cat-and-mouse thriller following the twisted journey of two women after an encounter at a rest stop. If that is the case, Perry’s script will evidently diverge from the source material in some ways, including swapping the genders of the main character and focusing on two characters instead of one.
Back in 2017 at the horror-centric Overlook Film Festival, Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman and super-producer Jason Blum announced that they would be teaming up for a new adaptation of “Firestarter,” King’s 1980 novel about a young girl with pyrokensis and the government agency on her trail. Goldsman announced that he was writing the script with Scott Teems (“Rectify”), and was quick to point out that they would be focusing on the original novel, rather than the earlier 1984 adaptation, which starred a young Drew Barrymore.
For years, King has offered the rights to his work through “Dollar Baby” contracts, by which the prolific writer allows film students and aspiring filmmakers to adapt his short stories for the low price of a single dollar. King has approved a number of Dollar Baby projects over the years; Frank Darabont made “The Woman in the Room” on a Dollar Baby contract in 1986. The collaboration led to Darabont being hired for “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.”
In October of last year, King sold the rights to his 2003 short story “Stationary Bike” to students from Blaenau Gwent Film Academy in Wales. The film follows an artist who is told he has dangerously high cholesterol. When he begins cycling to lose weight, he becomes obsessed and begins to hallucinate nightmarish scenarios. As part of the agreement, the films must not received commercial release. As such, King’s estate requests DVD copies, so that he can watch the final products.
In February, Deadline announced that “Clinical” filmmaker Alistair Legrand had been tapped to direct a feature version of the 2011 novella of the same name, with a script from Legrand and his “The Diabolical” collaborator Luke Harvis. The story is “set around a remote, boarded-up rest stop, [and] the film will follow 12-year-old Pete, his brother, and a group of strangers who must fight to survive as they’re hunted by a mysterious force.” Production is reportedly planned to kick off this fall.
In April of last year, Deadline also reported that Universal had made a deal to launch a new feature film around King’s 1987 sci-fi horror novel of the same name, which was previously made into a hit 1993 miniseries for ABC. The story follows “the residents of a Maine town who come under the influence of a strange object discovered in the woods. It turns out to be part of an alien spacecraft, which emits a gas that infects those who are exposed to it, eventually leading to chaos that only one man may be able to stop.”
The film is currently in development, and despite early rumors, “Conjuring” superstar James Wan is not attached to direct it.
Continuing Television Series
King’s books and stories have inspired numerous TV series over the years, but perhaps nothing has been as ambitious and wide-ranging than “Castle Rock,” Hulu’s anthology series which gathers together a number of the writer’s most beloved and well-known characters and storylines and throws them all together in the King-created environ of Castle Rock, Maine. It’s an essential watch for both long-time fans of the author and newbies interested in checking out everything he has to offer (which is, of course, a lot).
Created by Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason and starring André Holland, Melanie Lynskey, Bill Skarsgård, Jane Levy, and Sissy Spacek, the series wrapped its first season in September of last year and is already gearing up for a second season on the streaming platform.
On the other end of the current-King-series spectrum lays Audience crime drama “Mr. Mercedes,” which offers something a bit more niche for King fans. Based on the Bill Hodges novel trilogy, which includes “Mr. Mercedes,” “Finders Keepers,” and “End of Watch,” the violent crime drama comes with some TV bonafides: it was developed by David E. Kelley. Now gearing up for its third season, it stars Brendan Gleeson and Harry Treadaway. The story follows Gleeson as a dedicated detective attempting to out the eponymous Mr. Mercedes (Treadaway) a vehicular serial killer who has a taste for fame.
In-Development Television Series
Announced earlier this month, King is coming to Apple+, with Julianne Moore on deck to star in a new series based on the 2006 novel “Lisey’s Story.” Moore will play the title character, a woman dealing with the loss of her husband. After years of grief, she begins to see his life and death in a completely new way after unexpected events. No additional casting news has been revealed as of yet.
King teamed up with his other son Owen King to pen the best-selling 2017 novel of the same name, which AMC picked up earlier this week for development into a cable series. The Wrap reports that the project has already received a pilot script commitment from the cable network, with the younger King on deck to write it.
Per its official synopsis, the story is “set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison, [and] the father-son duo’s 2017 novel tells the story of a sleeping sickness that affects only women and begins to spread around the world.”
The Wrap also reported late last year that HBO had given a series order to King’s 2018 best-seller “The Outsider,” set to star and be produced by Ben Mendelsohn, with fellow producer Jason Bateman on deck to direct the first two episodes.
Per HBO, the series will follow “a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a local boy [that] leads a seasoned cop and an unorthodox investigator to question everything they believe to be real, as an insidious supernatural force edges its way into the case.”
“The Dark Tower”
The Nikolaj Arcel-helmed 2017 feature might have struck out, despite tapping big talents like Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey to play some of King’s most iconic characters in his most ambitious series, but a planned TV series was always in the works. Will it still happen, though?
In its newest incarnation, “The Dark Tower” will take the form of a prequel series launched by Amazon, with “Walking Dead” veteran Glen Mazzara set as executive producer and showrunner. In March, Variety reported that Jasper Pääkkönen and Sam Strike had both been cast in the pilot, with Strike on deck to play Roland Deschain, also known as The Gunslinger, with Pääkkönen believed to be playing The Man in Black, also known as Marten Broadcloak and Randall Flagg.
After years of back and forth — from who would direct it and star in it to which format it would take and even how long it would be — a new version of King’s seminal 1978 opus is finally making its way to the screen. In this iteration, it’s a CBS All Access limited series from director Josh Boone (who has tried to make this project happen one way or another since 2014) that will hit the streamer sometime in 2020.
It won’t be the first TV adaptation of the novel, which first led to a four-part ABC miniseries a quarter century ago. The 1994 version, one of the more ambitious productions in network television history, starred Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, Laura San Giacomo, Miguel Ferrer, and Ruby Dee.
Other Completed Projects
King’s prodigious output has led to the creation of scads of smaller adaptations, including recent shorts inspired by stories like “Survivor Type,” “The Reach,” “In the Deathroom,” “A Very Tight Place,” “Willa,” “Sedá hmota,” “Trapped,” “I Am the Doorway,” “The Death of Jack Hamilton,” a short version of “Rest Stop,” “One for the Road,” “Grey Matter,” and “Beachworld,” all of which are in various states of completion and post-production.
Elsewhere, indie filmmaker Selina Sondermann made her feature directorial debut with a recent adaptation of short story “Dedication,” which does not yet have a release plan in place.
Steven Spielberg has long wanted to adapt the 1984 novel that King co-wrote with Peter Straub, and Universal even picked up the rights for him in 1982, well before the book published. While the filmmaker attempted to make the book into a six-hour miniseries for TNT years ago, he now seems to be targeting a feature film adaptation, though he might not helm it himself. Last year, he told Entertainment Weekly that he’s “hoping to get this movie made in the next couple of years. I’m not committing to the project as a director, I’m just saying that it’s something that I’ve wanted to see come to theaters for the last 35 years.”
A remake of the terrifying rabid dog story, as first penned by King in the 1981 novel of the same name, has been rumored for years. While the 1984 film version got mixed reviews when it was released, it’s become something of a cult classic in the intervening years, which made the 2015 announcement that the novel was being turned into something quite different seemed to bug so many fans. In July of 2015, Bloody Disgusting reported that the classic King tale was going to be remade as “Canine Unit Joint Operations,” which hints at some major changes to the original narrative.
Lang Elliott of Sunn Classic Pictures was tapped to direct, with DJ Perry set to star. Despite off and on rumors over the years, the film doesn’t appear to be in production as of now.
Other Short Films
King’s short stories provide a fertile ground for many filmmakers, and in addition to the hefty amount of completed or almost completed short takes on his work, a number of other shorts are reportedly in the works. Those include new films based on “Rest Stop” (yes, another one), “Jac Kessler’s Popsy,” “The Doctor’s Case,” “Uncle Otto’s Truck,” “The Gingerbread Girl,” “One for the Road” (again, another one), “In the Deathroom” (you read that right), “Death Room” (yup), and “Doorway.”