Stephen King’s latest bestselling four novella collection If It Bleeds has quickly garnered three option deals, with a fourth in the offing because it involves a preexisting character who just starred in an HBO series adaptation. For those who know that King extends options for $1, that’s an extra $4 in the prolific author’s pocket, with a lot more coming when they get made.
Netflix, Blumhouse and Ryan Murphy have teamed to option the book’s first tale, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, which John Lee Hancock will adapt and direct. Jason Blum, Murphy and Carla Hacken will produce the feature.
Rat has been optioned to Ben Stiller, who intends to product, direct and star in the feature.
And Darren Aronofsky’s Protozoa has optioned The Life Of Chuck. At this point, Aronofsky is just aboard as producer.
The fourth installment, Let It Bleed, might have found a deal of its own, but it revolves around Holly, the clairvoyant detective played indelibly in the HBO limited series The Outsider by Cynthia Erivo. Don’t be surprised if the If It Bleed bleeds into the future of the series.
Now, you would have to go far back to King’s 1982 novella collection Different Seasons to see this level of film deals coming out of one of his books. That novella featured The Body, which became the Rob Reiner-directed classic Stand By Me; Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption, which became the Frank Darabont-directed classic The Shawshank Redemption with Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman; and Apt Pupil, which became the Bryan Singer-directed thriller that starred Ian McKellan and Brad Renfro. The only title that didn’t make it to the screen from that book was The Breathing Method. That one is in development with Blum producing and Doctor Strange helmer Scott Derrickson.
When I said King options his work for $1, the buck is a symbolic figure for option deals that contain many creative controls – though King doesn’t suffocate the creative process – and short leashes so that his work doesn’t languish in development hell.
Mr. Harrigan’s Phone is said to be the tale closest in tone to Stand By Me, with a supernatural spark thrown in for good measure. A youngster in Maine befriends and does odd jobs for the retired Mr. Harrigan, starting from when he is nine years old. Harrigan has a penchant for giving the youth scratch off lotto tickets that pay off and the youth reciprocates by buying the older man his first smart phone. When Mr. Harrigan dies, the teen puts the phone in his pal’s pocket before burial and when the lonely youth leaves his dead friend a message, he is shocked to get a return text from beyond the grave.
Blumhouse Television’s Marci Wiseman and Jeremy Gold are exec producing, and this becomes the fourth Netflix film with King, following Gerald’s Game, 1922, and In the Tall Grass.
The Life Of Chuck concerns title character Charles Krantz, who dies at age 39 of a brain tumor and whose life is segmented into several eerie supernatural chapter breaks.
Rat focuses on a frustrated writer named Drew Larson. With an acclaimed short story to his credit who turns to academia because each time he’s got a good book idea, something terrible happens. He is determined to write an idea for a Western, and heads out to an old family cabin in the woods determined to get it done. Severe storms occur and he makes a Faustian bargain with a rat to alleviate his writer’s block. Larson believes it was done in a dream state of delirium, but finds when he returns home that he made a rat pact to trade success for the life of a loved one…
If It Bleeds focuses on Holly Gibney of the Finders Keepers detective agency who is trying to find a missing dog when she watches a news report of a school bombing, and becomes convinced that the reporter on that story might not be objective at all. Aside from The Outsider, Gibney also was part of King’s Bill Hodges trilogy, the Brendan Gleeson series that encompassed Mr. Mercedes, Finders Keepers and End of Watch.