Stephen King has been terrifying audiences since the 1970s, penning one best-selling horror novel after another, his name becoming synonymous with horror fiction in the process. Film and TV adaptations of King’s work have been prevalent just as long as he’s been publishing it, but recently there seems to be a Stephen King boom. More and more King-related projects are finding their way to the big and small screen. And that was before the adaptation of King’s It raked in boffo box office. With It making all that dough, expect even more Stephen King adaptations to be announced soon.
To help you keep track of all the upcoming King projects, either completed or in development, I’ve compiled this handy list. It’s worth noting that not all of these films will ever see the light o day. Indeed, some of them have already entered the infernal halls of development hell, and who knows when they shall ever escape. Then again, now that King is big business at the box office, there’s a good chance titles that have been stuck in development hell for ages will suddenly find themselves fast tracked.
Without further adieu, here is every upcoming Stephen King adaptation.
Based on Stephen King’s 1992 novel of the same name, Gerald’s Game has been adapted for Netflix by Oculus director Mike Flanagan. The story follows a married couple (Carla Gugino and Bruce Greenwood) whose kinky weekend getaway turns real nasty, real fast. This is one of King’s not-so-great novels, which is probably why it remained unadapted for so long. But Flanagan, one of the most efficient horror directors working today, actually finds a way to turn it into a highly compelling, highly disturbing feature, and Gugino’s performance is wonderful. Look for it on Netflix September 29.
Speaking of Netflix adaptations, King’s novella from the collection Full Dark, No Stars receives its own Netflix movie courtesy of director Zak Hilditch. The depression-era tale tells of a rather cruel man (Thomas Jane) who murders his wife (Molly Parker), only to discover his deceased wife doesn’t plan on staying deceased very long. The story isn’t exactly what I’d call “classic King”, but this film adaptation looks surprisingly creepy. Like Gerald’s Game, 1922 had its premiere at Fantastic Fest. It’ll hit Netflix October 22.
Described as a “psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse” that
combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland,” Hulu’s Castle Rock might be the King project I’m most excited for. With a rather strong cast that includes Melanie Lynskey, Sissy Spacek, Andre Holland, Jane Levy, Scott Glenn, Terry O’Quinn and Pennywise himself, Bill Skarsgård, Castle Rock has the potential to cherry pick from several King properties and combine into a really cool, creepy TV series. Look for it on Hulu some time in 2018.
It Chapter 2
2017’s adaptation of It was always planned as two films, but it wasn’t until the first film became such a phenomenon that a sequel was guaranteed. Now, Andy Muschietti and company will definitely return for a follow-up film that finds the Losers Club all grown-up and ready to tangle with Pennywise all over again. The fun now lies in finding out who will be playing the adult versions of the Losers (my personal pick: Jessica Chastain for adult Bev, please). Just the other day, Warner Bros. and New Line announced that It Chapter 2 will terrify audiences on September 6, 2019, so you have two whole years to get over your fear of clowns.
Suffer the Little Children
One of the first new King projects to be announced on the heels of It was this adaptation of a short story about a grade school teacher who suddenly begins suspecting the students in her charge are slowly turning into monsters. The story itself is quick and nasty, so expect the film adaptation to flesh it out a bit. There’s already a brief synopsis that clearly adds more elements to the short story: “a recently divorced first-grade schoolteacher who notices some ‘unsettling’ traits in the children in her class: flashes of a bizarre texture lurking underneath their skin and a chilling, conspiratorial secrecy to the way they play together. And now, people in her new town are dying mysteriously. Is this all just paranoia, or is something more disturbing happening to the children in this town?” Keep Watching director Sean Carter is helming the film, which has no release date as of yet.
Earlier this year at the Overlook Film Festival, a horror fest held at the hotel that inspired King to write The Shining, Akiva Goldsman and Jason Blum announced they’d be remaking Firestarter. Previously adapted into a boring film starring Drew Barrymore, Firestarter focuses on a young girl who can start fires with her mind. I’m sure there’s room here for an interesting film, but Goldsman co-wrote the terrible King adaptation The Dark Tower, as well as several other terrible, hacky scripts, and I really wish people would stop giving him such high-profile projects.
Sleeping Beauties is a new tale of terror that King co-authored with his son. From the book jacket: “Set in a small Appalachian town whose primary employer is a women’s prison…in a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place…” In April, it was reported that Sleeping Beauties had been nabbed for a TV series adaptation. I haven’t had a chance to read this one yet, but it sounds appropriately creepy. You can read an excerpt from the book here.
Here’s one of those possibly-dead King films that might find new life again thanks to It’s success. Back in 2015, a film adaptation of King’s short sci-fi/horror tale was announced as a new project for Brad Pitt’s Plan B entertainment. And that’s not all – It director Andy Muschietti was in the running to helm the film. Based on my research, there’s been literally no movement on the project since it was announced, so don’t be surprised if this never sees the light of day. The short story that inspired it is one of King’s best – a tale of teleportation that starts out rather playful and even funny before quickly turning terrifying, with an ending that’s certain to make you lose some sleep.
Inspired by the novella Hearts in Atlantis, from the collection of the same name, Hearts was announced last year as a new film from Johannes Roberts, director of the recent sharksplotation flick 47 Meters Down. While there was previously a King-based movie called Hearts in Atlantis, that film was actually an adaptation of a story called Low Men in Yellow Coats, whereas this version will be a true adaptation of the Hearts in Atlantis story (confused yet?), about a group of college boys who come together to play cards, all set against the backdrop of the Vietnam war. It’s one of King’s supernatural-free tales – think Stand by Me or The Shawshank Redemption – and could make for a touching drama. There’s been no real word on the project since its 2016 announcement.
One of my favorite King short stories of late has been N., a tale that turns obsessive compulsive disorder into a work of Lovecraftian terror. The story is told in epistolary fashion, as a series of notes taken by a psychiatrist about a new and decidedly unsettling patient. The patient believes that if he stops engaging in certain obsessive compulsive actions, a barrier between our world and a world of Lovecraft-like Elder Gods will collide. Gaumont Television is developing King’s N. into a TV series retitled 8, which refers to a series of 8 Stonehenge-like stones that guard our world from the world beyond. The series already seems different than the story, focusing on three teenagers who escaped a malicious force, and are confronted 25 years later. That synopsis seems like it’s trying to cash-in on the success of It, which also focuses on a group of childhood friends who have to eventually return home to confront evil.
James Franco, who starred in the Hulu adaptation of King’s 11.22.63, is apparently going to star in an adaptation of this King short story from writer Matt Rager. The film will tell the tale of a small town in Maine (of course), where two men – a mob boss and a mechanic (played by Franco) – who compete against each other in the town’s annual 4th of July fireworks competition. I could see this becoming a quirky, over-the-top comedy, but I’ll just say it: I absolutely hate the short story this is based off of. It’s clunky and abrasive, and filled with moments you can tell King thinks are hilarious but are really just annoying. So I’m not exactly salivating at the prospect of a film adaptation.
In the Tall Grass
Like the previously mentioned Sleeping Beauties, In The Tall Grass is another tale King wrote with his son. Only in this case, the son in question is Joe Hill, who has forged a pretty strong fiction career of his own at this point. Splice director Vincenzo Natali was announced to usher this adaptation to screens back in 2015. The short story that inspired this (possibly dead) adaptation is deceptively simple: a brother and sister stop at a rest stop and get lost in the field of tall grass adjacent to it. What follows, though, is something incredibly terrifying that builds and builds to a fever-pitch.
What the heck is going on with The Stand? Who knows! But a while back, The Fault in our Stars director Josh Boone proclaimed he would be the one to bring King’s mammoth apocalyptic novel to the screen. First, Boone said he was going to turn the book into a series of films. Then the filmmaker claimed there would be a Showtime series that would lead into the first film. Then it was put on hold. The Stand, about the aftermath of a plague that wipes out a large chunk of humanity, is one of King’s most epic novels, and the box office failure of the “epic” The Dark Tower might have hindered things even further. Maybe if Boone quickly changes the title to The Stand: From The Author of IT, things will pick up again.
From one Josh Boone-directed King adaptation to another: Revival, King’s eerie novel inspired, in part, by Frankenstein, caught Boone’s attention early last year. Boone apparently wanted Samuel L. Jackson to star, but it doesn’t seem like the project has evolved past the planning stages yet. Revival is the story of a preacher who begins to experiment with electricity and the supernatural. There’s a lot of material in the book that would make for a strong, modern take on the Frankenstein mythos, but whether or not Boone is the person to do it remains to be seen. For his part, Boone believes that getting Revival made would be a heck of a lot easier than The Stand, saying: “I still intend to make The Stand, but I need more time…”
The Breathing Method
Of all the stories in King’s novella collection Different Seasons, only one remains unadapted to film or TV: The Breathing Method, the story of a relationship that develops between a doctor and an unwed mother in the 1930s. It’s mostly horror-free until the last few pages, when things go a bit crazy. A film based on the story was announced in 2012, with Sinister and Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson set to direct for Blumhouse. Nothing came of the project, but in 2016, Blumhouse CEO Jason Blum said The Breathing Method was very much alive, and now being planned as a television series. Just how that would work remains to be seen, since it’s a very self-contained story with only two real characters at its focus.
Pet Sematary, the tale of a Native American burial ground that has the power to resurrect the dead and turn them into cruel, murderous ghouls, is one of my favorite King novels, and I personally love Mary Lambert’s 1989 film adaptation. That said, even though that adaptation had a script by King himself, it left out a lot of stuff from the novel, so there’s plenty of room for a remake. Paramount has been developing a Pet Sematary remake as far back as 2011, with 1408 screenwriter Matthew Greenberg penning the script. Guillermo del Toro has been expressing interest in directing a Pet Sematary remake for some time now, which would be amazing. So amazing, in fact, that I’m confident it will never happen, because things that good never happen. Recently, It director Andy Muschietti throw his hat into the ring as being interested in making the remake. Muschietti pretty much has a golden ticket to pick and choose whatever project he wants now, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he made this happen.
The Things They Left Behind
Seth Grahame-Smith, who produced It, was hired to turn to King’s short story about the aftermath of 9/11 into a TV series for CBS series. King’s book was about a man haunted, quite literally, by a box of possessions that used to belong to several of his coworkers who died in the Twin Towers. The series was apparently going to take a more X-Files-meets-Pushing Daisies-style approach, focusing on “an unlikely pair of investigators carrying out the unfinished business of the dead.” There’s been no movement on this since 2014, but CBS apparently gave the show a pilot commitment, which means contractually they would have to pay the producers a big pile of cash if the pilot never airs. So either that payment already happened, or we’ll get a The Things They Left Behindshow at some point.
In 2013, King published Doctor Sleep, a sequel of sorts to his classic novel The Shining. It’s terrible! The book follows the grown-up Danny Torrence, the young psychic boy from The Shining, as he tangles with some psychic vampires. Did I mention this book stinks? Still, there’s brand recognition there – a sequel to The Shining is too good to pass up! So a film adaptation was inevitable. As recently as last-year, plans to turn the book into a film were still kicking around. And who was going to turn King’s book into a film? Why, it’s Akiva Goldsman again! Oh no…
Remember Josh Boone? Here’s yet another King adaptation that had his name attached to it. In 2013, Boone was planning to adapt King’s novel Lisey’s Story to the big screen. The plan was to tackle the film as soon as he finished making The Fault In Our Stars, yet Lisey’s Story has yet to come to pass, which is a shame. It’s one of King’s better later novels, focusing the widow of a famous novelist who finds herself dealing with a crazy stalker. King, for his part, would love a Lisey’s Story adaptation, telling Variety, “Lisey’s Story is my favorite of the books and I would love to see that done, especially now that there’s a kind of openness on the streaming services on television and even the cable networks.”
The Overlook Hotel
One of the most promising yet-to-be-made King adaptations is The Overlook Hotel, a prequel to The Shining that has had some pretty exciting names attached to it. Warner Brothers originally wantedGravity director Alfonso Cuarón to helm the flick before signing One Hour Photo filmmaker Mark Romanek. The film would be based on a deleted prologue from King’s novel and focus on the origins of the haunted Overlook Hotel. Romanek is a gifted filmmaker who doesn’t work as often as he should, and the prospect of him making a Shining prequel sounds intriguing. But all has been quiet on the Overlook front. In 2015, producer James Vanderbilt was still insisting the film was going to happen with Romanek at the helm, but I have a bad feeling this project might be as dead as most of the Overlook’s guests.
The Eyes of the Dragon
With Game of Thrones as popular as it is, an adaptation of King’s fantasy novel The Eyes of the Dragon seems almost like a no-brainer. Yet nothing has developed yet. The most we have is an announcement from 2012 that SyFy was working on adapting the book into either a show or miniseries. Styled like an adult fairy tale, The Eyes of the Dragon is set in a magical kingdom while also focusing on familial strife and palace intrigue. It’s pretty much Game of Thrones without all the sex. If done right, it could be a big hit. But apparently SyFy is a bit too busy making Sharknado sequels to get around to making this a reality.
TNT said in 2014 they were working a series that would double as a sequel to Firestarter, but like so many of the projects on this list, it has yet to be made. The Shop was a secret government agency that King used in a few of his novels, including Carrie and Firestarter, and the series The Shop, as described to EW, would be a drama centered on “the insidious agency responsible for kidnapping and attempting to exploit the psychokinetic powers of a young girl named Charlie McGee in the original story. Now it’s 20 years later and Charlie has been tracked down by one of The Shop’s former members, Henry Talbot, who introduces her to a group of people with their own unique abilities…[now] The Shop is very much alive, bigger and badder than ever, and its dark experiments are unleashing terrifying new entities on the world. It’s now up to Talbot, Charlie and the rest of the team to find The Shop and destroy it for good.” Sounds…kind of dull. I wouldn’t be surprised if this project has been abandoned for good.
The Talisman, a fantasy adventure King co-authored with Peter Straub, is perhaps one of the longest in-development projects with King’s name on it. The book was published in 1984, and Steven Spielberg quickly snapped up the rights to it. But Spielberg and Amblin Entertainment could never settle on a film script they were happy with. Spielberg then tried to turn the book into a miniseries, but nothing came of it. In 2008, frequent Spielberg producer Frank Marshall revealed that The Talisman was still happening, telling IGN, “It’s back to being a movie. It’s kind of on the backburner since we’re waiting to see how everything shakes out with the DreamWorks, Paramount, Amblin thing.” So far, however, The Talisman remains firmly rooted to the printed page.
The Dark Tower Sequels/TV series
I considered just leaving this one off the list, because come on, we know it’s not going to happen. But for the sake of being thorough, here it is. The Dark Towerwas planned as a franchise, since there several books in King’s fantasy series, but after the poor reaction and box office surrounding The Dark Tower, who knows if any sequels will see the light of day. As The Dark Tower was hitting theaters, director Nikolaj Arcel was still insisting a TV series spin-off was being planned, saying, “It’s being written. I was part of writing the pilot, like the first season ideas and the pilot and the second episode. It’s gonna be awesome. What was exciting about that, whereas with the film, we were really trying to create an introduction and make a standalone film that could sort of live in itself, but what was also exciting, working on the TV show at the same time, is that is totally canon.” Will this TV series ever actually come to pass? I’m not going to bet on it, but stranger things have happened.
Cujo: Canine Unit Joint Operations
I saved the best for last. I’m almost positive this project is dead, but gosh I hope I’m proven wrong. Two years ago, word came that King’s Cujo, about a St. Bernard that becomes rabid and starts attacking people, was going to receive a remake courtesy of Sunn Classic Pictures Inc, who primarily traffic in bible stories. But that wasn’t all – King’s book was going to be re-titledCUJO: Canine Unit Joint Operations, which hints at some sort of action movie about a team of super-dogs, possibly trained by the military. The details were spotty, but hell, with a title like that, you don’t need details! Nothing about the project made much sense, least of all its director, Lang Elliott, who just happens to be the CEO of Sunn Classic Pictures. Elliott hasn’t directed a film since 1994’s Cage II, featuring original Hulk Lou Ferrigno. That might not be a very illustrious directorial career, but if you ask me, Lang is the perfect guy to helm a movie called CUJO: Canine Unit Joint Operations, whatever the hell that is.