Stephen King

It’s been a long time since Stephen King fans had any reason to be excited for an upcoming film adaptation of his work. Bag of Bones was made into a mediocre mini-series last year, but the last King-based feature to hit theaters was Frank Darabont’s excellent and underrated The Mist five years ago. Between then and now the only other completed productions were several short films (usually independent “dollar babies”). It’s telling that the best film/TV entity bearing his name in the past five years is a syfy series that bears absolutely zero connection to its supposed source material (King’s short novel, The Colorado Kid). Recent announcements haven’t been all that exciting either. The Dark Tower from the poop-filled pen of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman? The Ten O’Clock People from the director of the worst King mini-series, The Langoliers? Remakes of Firestarter, Carrie, and Pet Sematary? Aside from a tease that Ben Affleck may develop The Stand as an upcoming directorial project the news has been fairly grim. Which is why what follows is so damn exciting (and unexpected).

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Tom Holland and Stephen King

It’s been 16 years since Tom Holland‘s last feature film, Thinner, hit screens. It came at the end of a career of writing work like Class of 1984 and Psycho 2 and directing Fight Night and Fatal Beauty. But now, it’s not the end. According to Deadline Castle Rock, Holland is going to make Stephen King‘s “Ten O’Clock People” his next feature film. Beyond this and Thinner, Holland also adapted King’s “The Langoliers” for TV and appears in The Stand. The story for Ten O’Clock People focuses on a man quitting smoking, who discovers that he (and others trying to kick the habit) are able to see hideous monsters who have disguised themselves and made their way to prominent positions in society. Just like we all knew all along. These Batmen pose a great threat, and it will be interesting to see Holland flesh out King’s short story which is, admittedly, a bit thin. Sorry for the pun. However, it seems as though King is having a filmic re-emergence with many different projects in the works (Dark Tower, Carrie and others). A million years ago, we posted a list of Stephen King short stories that would make great movies, and this wasn’t on there because (while this is incredibly interesting) there are a ton of other stories that would be better suited for the big screen. It’s a head-scratcher, but it’s cool to see Holland back in the saddle.

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A quick hit of official business on a Friday afternoon, as Deadline Farmdale reports that MGM has made a formal offer to Julianne Moore for the role of the demented religious fanatic mother in Kimberly Peirce‘s take on Carrie. Moore had been in the running for the role since last month, and it appeared to be hers to lose earlier this month. Jody Foster was also rumored to be a possible pick by Peirce. Chloe Moretz is set to play the Carrie role that Sissy Spacek originated in Brian De Palma’s 1976 take on Stephen King’s novel of the same name. Piper Laurie played the mother role in that film, eventually getting an Oscar nomination for her work. With such a solid team behind this film, it looks like more awards glory might be in the cards for the film about a teen outcast, her psychic powers, and a town that just doesn’t understand.

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Culture Warrior

Editor’s Note: With Landon Palmer busy (read: probably writing a thesis on Sexual Deviancy in John Wayne Films in the Greater Context of Post-WWII America As Seen Through the Work of Southern Filmmakers), the excellent, insightful Adam Charles has stepped in to write this week’s entry. Enjoy. Few things have been as equally discussed and deliberated over the past few weeks than that of who Lionsgate was going to choose to take the reigns from Gary Ross to direct the second installment in The Hunger Games franchise. The first film had one of the biggest opening weekends in history (and it didn’t even require 3D price-hikes to get there), earned a positive majority from critics, and has a dedicated fanbase that defies demographic lines of fandom; and they’re chomping at the bit to see the next adaptation in the series, Catching Fire, as quickly as possible. Neither Lucas, Spielberg, or even Peter Jackson’s franchises could replicate just how much of the domestic populous is waiting for the next picture.

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Back when it was announced that Chloe Moretz would be the new girl getting laughed at it Kimberly Peirce’s upcoming remake of the horror classic Carrie, it was also rumored that the director had a couple of names in mind for Carrie’s overbearing, fundamentalist mother. According to word on the street, either Jodie Foster or Julianne Moore were the top choices. Of course, word on the street isn’t always very reliable, so that was news to be taken with a grain of salt. In this case, however, the gossip-mongers seem to have been spot on. Bloody Disgusting is now reporting that things have progressed with Moore to the point where she’s in serious talks to take the role. If things work out and Moore comes on board, she’s going to have some pretty big shoes to fill. Piper Laurie already portrayed the mother character very memorably in the Brian De Palma-directed Carrie, to the point where she’s fondly thought of as one of the creepiest and most evil villains in horror history. Moore already has one strike against her as far as horror fans are concerned due to her involvement in Gus Van Sant’s absurd Psycho remake, so if this film turns out to be as unnecessary and awful as that one, she could be marked as a pariah for life.

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Late last week, Nathan graced us with a story about MGM’s supposed short list for the lead role in Kimberly Peirce‘s remake of Carrie, a list that included Chloe Moretz and Haley Bennett at the top, with other names like Dakota Fanning, Lily Collins, and Emily Browning rounding out the apparent second-string picks. It was a relatively odd list – a mix of ages, looks, and star power, with only one name really sticking out as the actress most likely to get as gritty and desperate as Sissy Spacek so memorably did in Brian DePalma’s original film (based on the 1974 Stephen King novel). That actress is of course 15-year-old Moretz, who has already turned in her share of gritty and desperate work before even hitting legal driving age (see: Kick-Ass, Let Me In, and Hick). Thankfully, it looks like MGM and Peirce agree with my assertion, as Deadline Fulton reports that the studio and the director have now made a formal offer to Moretz. The outlet adds that, despite last week’s short list, “Peirce and the studio had an eye on Moretz. The studio denied it at the time, but what actually happened is, Moretz didn’t meet with Peirce until last weekend. She got the job immediately.”

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Junkfood Cinema - Large

Editor’s note: With our own Junkfood addict Brian Salisbury busy writing through the typhoon that is SXSW, we’ve farmed out his column to similarly-minded Rejects. This time at bat – Kevin Carr! Welcome back to Junkfood Cinema, where our best exercise is lifting food into our mouths and working those jaw muscles. This week, we’re looking ahead to the future by looking into the past. Remember when reasonable people saw virtual reality for its true dangerous potential: to control people’s minds? You don’t? Well, try telling that to the filmmakers from 1992 because apparently it was a real threat. Today, we’re examining the gloriously convoluted dangers of virtual reality in a world of ooey gooey polygons and cybersex. The film that warned us of these dangers: The Lawnmower Man.

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Boiling Point

AMC’s The Walking Dead and I have a strange relationship in that I watch it but don’t particularly care for it. I can’t really tell you why I tune in every week, but it has something to do with my great love for the comic books and a desire to see horror on television, mostly regardless of quality. The books by Robert Kirkman have always had a bit of melodrama about them, but the show has often taken that to obvious, soap opera levels. “The Walking Dead” comics feature a great cast of characters with complex motivations and relationships. Many of those characters made it to the television show – well, at least characters with the same names made it in. Things have changed so drastically from comic to screen that one has to ask – when does an adaptation stop being an adaptation?

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At one point in its recent development history, The Stand was planning on sending the Harry Potter team of Steve Kloves and David Yates to a cornfield in Colorado to write and direct the incredibly difficult source material. With that team passing on Stephen King‘s novel, Ben Affleck picked it up for a directorial project, and Vulture is reporting that Affleck has hired screenwriter David Kajganich to provide the blueprint. The only problem here is Kajganich’s track record. It’s always difficult to assign blame/credit to writers for a finished film because of the labyrinthine group effort the art demands, but so far his two biggest features have been the flat Invasion (starring Nicole Kidman) and the nasty horror flick Blood Creek. Neither inspires much in the way of optimism for an adaptation that even the most talented writer would struggle to make sense of. According to the report, Warners was impressed with Kajganich’s draft for a feature film version of It and decided that he was fit for crowing King again. What’s more, he’s also the writer of the Pet Sematary remake at Paramount, which means the studio system only knows of one guy who’s interested in writing these things for some reason. The question here is why Affleck would pass off writing duties (although the answer may be that he just doesn’t have the time to deal with a tome of that size). The silver lining, of course, is that Affleck so far has proven himself to be a […]

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We’ve all heard the grumblings and complaints over the prospect of a new remake of Brian De Palma‘s adaptation of Carrie. What’s to care about with this remake? We’ve already got a pretty perfect adaptation. But now some of us can care, with the news that Kimberly Peirce could possibly be at the helm. Peirce is both an odd and kind of perfect choice for this project. Her acclaimed Boys Don’t Cry and lesser acclaimed but still pretty good Stop-Loss are both what one could call psychological horror movies, and Carrie very much is that. Peirce seems adept crafting films that chronicle young people going through a tough time, so she makes for an oddly suitable fit, really. MGM and Screen Gems are supposedly interested in a “gritty” take, despite the story involving a girl using psychic powers. Peirce, clearly being a lover of making all things gritty and realistic, could probably give them the realism they (oddly) want. Deadline Hermon is currently reporting she’s “in talks” to direct, and I certainly hope that deal goes through.

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As all things go in cycles, we’re headed toward the apex of the Stephen-King-Movie-Go-Round. And, yes, I know carousels don’t have apexes because they spin horizontally, but just go with it. Some projects, like The Dark Tower still have a question mark hanging over them, and others, like remakes of Carrie and Pet Sematary, are simply ideas in the minds of executives. Today we can add another project to that pile, and take one out as well. According to /film, the proposed Showtime series adapted from “Under the Dome” is moving forward with Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan sitting down at his typewriter for the program. The story focuses on a town in Maine (surprise!) that’s sealed off from the rest of the world by a mysterious force field. Kind of like a supernaturally powered island. Adding to the prospective pile, Variety is reporting that Palomar Pictures has secured funding for two foreign remakes and an adaptation of King’s “Rose Madder” – the novel about a woman who leaves a dreadfully abusive husband and discovers a painting that she can travel into. The bottom line? Either get ready for a lot of Stephen King or get ready for Stephen King to receive a bunch of checks for movies that never get made.

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At this rate, the saga of bringing Stephen King‘s The Dark Tower series to the big screen will be almost as harrowing as the book (but only about 1/100th as long). The earliest I remember hearing about it was back in 2008 when J.J. Abrams kept having his name pop up everywhere. Of course, things didn’t seem really concrete until Ron Howard saddled up to ride, but then he backed out after everyone ever laughed at his budget and vision of 30 movies and 200 television miniseries. None of that has fazed Brian Grazer. The shrewd producer told The Playlist that he, Howard, and writer Akiva Goldsman did some reworking on both the script and the numbers, and came up with something even more destined to get made than the previous incarnation was supposed to be. The money quote: “We found a way to cut out $45m out of the budget without changing the scope and actually giving it a good ending. In the $140m draft, the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying. Now, we’ve got $45m, $50m out of the way and a really satisfying ending. It’s gonna get made.” Fingers tightly crossed that “really satisfying ending” doesn’t equal Roland riding off in the sunset. On that front, it’s unclear whether or not Javier Bardem is still interested in the main role or the dusty trail to get this thing in the can, but with Goldsman and Howard still on board (again), it’s still a shadow of the project that […]

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Well, huh. Warner Bros. has reportedly “chosen” (appropriate wording)Ben Affleck to adapt from the source material and direct The Stand, their crack at making a feature (or two…or three…) out of Stephen King‘s massive novel about a post-apocalyptic America, decimated by a government-designed super-flu. The book was previously turned into a somewhat lackluster television miniseries back in 1994 (and I do say “somewhat,” because there are things I liked about it, namely the casting of Jamey Sheridan as King’s constant character, the wicked Randall Flagg). I’m not generally a huge fan of King’s work, but I love The Stand because, it’s late on a Friday so I can work a little blue here, I fucking love post-apocalyptic fiction, and The Stand is a big, sweeping, totally awesome specimen of the genre. The studio reportedly picked Affleck for the job because they “love” him and because he’s “become a cornerstone director” for them. Of course, this film is a huge undertaking for any director, as the book is sprawling and layered and deep and really wonderful, but it’s also, again sprawling and layered and deep. Even King himself has doubted that the book could be made into a feature film. Affleck is turning into a great director, and he’s proven himself able to adapt material (all three of his features, including the currently-shooting Argo come from previously written material, including books and articles), but this is something else. The Stand is, again, a massive undertaking, and I cannot wait to see how this pans out, […]

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Stephen King has been a pop culture icon for several decades now, but it’s starting to look like in 2011 he’s heating up hotter than ever. Even though the world of Stephen King film adaptations took a bit of a hit when Ron Howard’s proposed Dark Tower movies got nixed, just recently it was announced that the Harry Potter super-team of David Yates and Steve Kloves are going to be doing a series of films adapting King’s post apocalyptic tale The Stand. And now comes the news that The Silence of the Lambs director Jonathan Demme is making a deal to adapt a King novel that hasn’t even been published yet.

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Let the hyperventilation begin. As if manna from Heaven being tossed down upon a weary people who didn’t want to see Akiva Goldsman and Ron Howard build The Dark Tower, Hitfix is reporting that screenwriter Steve Kloves and director David Yates are close to making a multi-film deal happen for The Stand over at Warners. As that sinks in, think of the success Kloves had writing the Harry Potter series, and the level of craftsmanship that David Yates brought to the table. It’s no doubt that Potter was a unique sort of lightning – given most of its energy from an unthinkable popularity around the world – but the movies had to deliver, and they most certainly did. Now, this pair has a chance to take (perhaps) Stephen King‘s most iconic work and deliver it the way it deserves – on the big screen. Mick Garris did as fine a job possible with a television mini-series format (and the smoldering tones of Gary Sinise), but it’s time to shift this story about a spiritually-prophesied viral outbreak that kills just about everyone into R-rated territory and make Randall Flagg a truly devastating villain.

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You wouldn’t expect that a movie about an Indian burial ground that brings dead pets back to life in rabid, vicious zombie form could be considered an untouchable classic, but horror fans are very protective about what they like. And Stephen King, while a horror icon on the literary shelf, has a much spottier record when it comes to film adaptations. That 1989’s Pet Sematary turned out to be one of the best King adaptations adds to its status as modern classic meant to be cherished. By now it should be clear though that nothing is sacred in Hollywood, especially horror properties. So of course a remake of Pet Sematary has been in the works for a while. The last time we heard about the project, Paramount had hired Matt Greenberg to write a script for a remake. He already had some experience adapting King work with 1408, so I guess the choice made sense. And it turns out Greenberg took Paramount’s request pretty seriously, this isn’t a goof, the man has now turned in his script. So the next step toward getting this thing off the ground is finding a director. Enter Piranha and The Hills Have Eyes director Alexandre Aja. Twitch reports that Aja is close to taking on the job. Paramount is actively pursuing him, and while Aja has a project called Cobra: The Space Pirate he’s looking to do, that film has yet to find adequate funding, and isn’t scheduled to start shooting until 2013. A […]

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With Javier Bardem officially being cast in Bond 23, the actor he secured a job just as his old application was being buried under the rubble of a failed project. The Ron Howard-directed Dark Tower project (which almost demands a different word considering how Cyclopean that damned thing was) is now too hefty for Universal to support. Too hefty, and too much of a gamble. According to Deadline Cressia, the studio has passed on what would have been a three film, two television mini-series deal to bring the Stephen King epic to life. Sadly, these things happen. In fact, this situation isn’t at all surprising. Committing to that much money and that many films is a gargantuan gamble that might have seen Universal not only lose big, but also find themselves unable to put more funding into other projects. In short, it would have consumed them. The good news is that the project is free to go to another studio that might be a good home for it. Or it might just remain a pipe dream. The bigger question here is – why not do it the old fashioned way where you make a movie, plan for a sequel and create something the audience will lovingly support?

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Fresh off ending his run as the defacto director of the once hot potato Harry Potter series, David Yates has suddenly gone from being a little known TV director to becoming a giant name in the industry. What he does next will probably be the subject of a lot of attention, and Vulture is reporting that he already has three potential franchises on his plate. Feeling a little bit jealous of Universal’s prospective Stephen King mega-franchise The Dark Tower, Warner Bros. is looking to get into the King business themselves. To that end they are looking to do a new version of one of King’s most famous novels, The Stand, which is likely to be stretched out into three films. Being the guy who made them a bajillion dollars with these last four Harry Potter movies, Yates would get first dibs on the new trilogy if he wants it. It’s a big commitment to make, and reportedly he has the next two weeks to decide.

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Not too long ago there were reports floating around that some corporate reshuffling over at NBCUniversal was probably going to lead to their gigantic Dark Tower project being cancelled. Originally, the Stephen King novels were set to be adapted into three feature films and two series of television specials by director Ron Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, but in trying economic times putting so many eggs into one risky basket started looking like not so great an idea. Or maybe it didn’t. In an interview with Inside Movies, Howard is saying that the project just got pushed back a bit, but it’s still going to happen. He explains, “We had to pull back to our September start date due to budget delays and ongoing story development and logistical issues, but Dark Tower is moving forward.” So, at least according to the director, this project is still moving forward, but in what form? One thing that we can probably forget about is all of the casting rumors we’ve heard so far. Putting the project off makes it hard to predict whose schedule will be able to sync up with such an expansive project. Howard said, “We’re thinking of starting in early spring now. I can’t really say who’ll be in it yet, but Javier Bardem has shown a great deal of interest. We’ll know by the end of the summer… “

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Stephen King’s “Dark Tower” series of novels is like a nerd dream come true. There are so many books, so many characters, and so much story that you could spend countless hours getting lost in them. But what makes them such a beloved set of novels also makes them a hugely daunting task for a film adaptation. Despite the popularity of the series, and the name brand value of Stephen King going back for decades, in order to present the “Dark Tower” series in any sort of respectable light it would take countless millions of dollars and who knows how much screen time. When Universal green lit the series for production and announced that it would become not just a trilogy of films, but instead a trilogy of films with two television series sandwiched in between their releases, it seemed too good to be true. Never before had we seen that level of commitment to a source material or that amount of ambition put into a project. But now there are rumblings that this whole scheme might not come to pass after all. You see, that plan was made back before there was a bunch of big corporate shakeups in the world of NBCUniversal and Steve Burke was named the new CEO of the company. Such is life when the biggest movie studios are one and the same with the biggest corporations. Now everything that costs big bucks is being looked over with a new set of eyes and a […]

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