Stephen King Sold the Rights to ‘Stationary Bike’ to Teenage Film Students for Just $1

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, but the students of Blaenau Gwent Film Academy are ready to put in the hours.
Stephen King
Stephen King

One of the most prolific writers of the last century, Stephen King’s novels and short stories transition easily to the screen. Whether it’s IndieWire’s Best Horror Movie of All-Time in “The Shining,” or a wrenching coming-of-age story that launched a generation of leading men like “Stand by Me,” King’s writing has inspired some of modern cinema’s best films. Now, one lucky group of young filmmakers has scored a shot at glory, by securing the rights to “Stationary Bike,” a King short story published in 2003, for a mere dollar.

The students at Blaenau Gwent Film Academy in Wales won the bid as one of King’s “Dollar Baby” contracts, by which the writer allows film students and aspiring filmmakers to adapt his short stories for the low, low price of just a buck. 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.”

Originally published in the fifth edition of From the Borderlands in 2003, “Stationary Bike” 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.

The film students secured the rights to the story after writing to King directly. “Being given an opportunity to bring one of Stephen King’s novels to life is crazy,” 16-year-old Alfie Evans told the BBC. Evans will pen the script along with GCSE drama student Cerys Cliff. When they are finished, approximately 30 students will work on turning it into a film.

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. Here’s hoping, for the kids’ sake, that King likes “Stationary Bike” more than he likes “The Shining.”

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