It’s good to be the King. The human content machine that is Stephen King continues to churn out stories and characters that scare up huge success as screen entertainment. In fact, King is casting a bigger shadow than ever (check out the long list of upcoming project below) but that’s no surprise to Frank Darabont, the three-time Oscar nominee who remains one of King’s most ardent fans in Hollywood.
“The real underlying thing is a secret superpower, but now not-so-secret, is he always really makes you care about the characters,” Darabont said. “You really become invested and that’s a tremendous skill for a writer to have and I don’t think anybody does it quite as well as Stephen does.”
Thanks to Fathom Events and TCM, Darabont’s masterpiece, The Shawshank Redemption, returns to 700 theaters at the end of the month (Sept. 22, 24, and 25) to mark the film’s 20th anniversary. Based on King’s novel about a wrongly convicted inmate’s transformation behind bars, the movie represents only part of Darabont’s interaction’s with King material. There was also The Green Mile and The Mist.
How did Darabont become one of King’s men in Hollywood? Here’s how he recounts the story:
“I was aware of Stephen King because of the movie Carrie, which I loved, but hadn’t really gotten into his actual books yet, not until The Shining. Which is kind of a funny story because you know, I was in high school then when The Shining came out and it was sent to me by mistake from the book club because I neglected because I was a flaky teenager, I neglected to send the card back. I don’t know if you remember the book club, how that used to work, they would have their main selection and they would send you a notice about what the next book is, right, and if you didn’t want it delivered you had to mail the card back, you know, to prevent them from shipping it and I forgot to do that, and usually I did have to send the card back because even though I loved to read, I still do, I seldom had the money to actually buy a book.”
Darabont continued: “So, one day the book arrives in the mail, I pull it out, and it’s The Shining by some guy named Stephen King — Stefan, as I thought it was pronounced at first, and I thought, ‘Aww, dog-gone it, I forgot to send the card back, I’m going to have to, you know, put it back in the box and send it back to them with a note saying I’m sorry, but I can’t afford to buy this book right now.’ I flipped the book open as I was about to put it back in the box, but my eyes landed on the paragraph where the dead woman sits up in the bathtub, and scares the hell out of Danny Torrance, and I froze and I thought, ‘Ooh, that’s really right up my alley, I’ve got to read this book.’ So, I sat down and read it, and of course I found the money to actually pay for it, and I think I got it from my mom, I probably wrangled it out of her because I read that book in a white heat, and it’s one of the rare times I got to the end of the book and I flipped back to the first page and read it a second time. That’s how much that book had an impact on me. The writing was just of a caliber that blew my mind. It’s still one of the greatest novels in the genre, I think, written in the 20th Century.”
And no, the postmark on the book club parcel wasn’t from the Overlook Hotel in Colorado. King has written more than 60 bestsellers at this point but, it’s some of his earliest works that are connecting with viewers in new adaptations right now Here’s a look at some of the many King projects on the way now.
It (New Line Cinema/Warner Bros)
New Line and director Andy Muschietti brought back Pennywise the Dancing Clown after the first film finished its theatrical run in 2017 as the highest-grossing horror release in history. The sequel was No. 1 for the second weekend in a row and has gone north of $322 million in global box office already.
Doctor Sleep (Warner Bros)
Director Mike Flanagan’s sequel to The Shining (1980) opens Nov. 8 and stars Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance, the grown-up survivor of the Overlook Hotel massacre. The movie is an adaptation of the namesake novel by King which was released in 2013.
In the Tall Grass (Netflix)
The film premieres on the streaming service on Oct. 4. Directed by Vincenzo Natali (Splice), it adapts the horror novella written by King and his son, Joe Hill, and stars youngsters Laysla De Oliveira and Avery Whitted and also features Patrick Wilson, Rachel Wilson, and Harrison Gilbertson. In the Tall Grass was first published in 2012 in Esquire magazine.
The Stand (CBS All Access)
True Blood and Big Little Lies star Alexander Skarsgard (brother of Bill Skarsgard, who portrays Pennywise in the It films) was just cast as Randall Flagg. The ensemble also features James Marsden, Whoopi Goldberg, Amber Heard, Greg Kinnear, and Marilyn Manson. Created by Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars), the 10-episode premiere season will be next year on the CBS subscription streaming site.
Castle Rock (Hulu)
The series returning for Season 2 on Oct. 23 and a new trailer was just released. In it, Lizzy Caplan portrays budding psychopath Annie Wilkes, the nurse from Misery, who has a prescription for trouble as she arrives in the small town of Castle Rock, which is where characters from different King novels meet in a shared universe. The series also stars Tim Robbins, Paul Sparks, Yusra Warsama, Barkhad Abdi, Elsie Fisher, and Matthew Alan.
Mr. Mercedes (AT&T Audience Network)
Season 3 is now underway for the Tuesday night series from executive producer David E. Kelley. Brendan Gleeson (In Bruges) stars as a grizzled detective taunted out of retirement by a serial killer.