Cujo Remake Moves Ahead With a Slightly Altered Title

By  · Published on July 6th, 2015

Sun Classic Pictures/Lionsgate

Many of Stephen King’s books have received or are getting a second adaptation. Some that first hit the big screen are redone for the small screen (The Shining; The Dead Zone), sometimes as ongoing series, and some that first hit TV are set to now go to theaters (It; The Stand). It’s not clear how the previously announced remake of Cujo will go, but it doesn’t sound like something that will be hitting the big screen in a big way. Lang Elliott, head of the original’s production company, Sun Classic Pictures, is set to direct a new version of the rabid-dog thriller, and unless he again gets Warner Bros. to distribute this (or Lionsgate, which put out the Blu-ray), it could very well be a limited or direct-to-video effort.

What’s interesting about the remake – or reboot, as it’s being called – is the title has been changed to the acronym C.U.J.O., which is said to stand for “Canine Unit Joint Operations” (IMDb lists the movie fully as Cujo: Canine Unit Joint Operation). That sounds like it will be straying more from the King novel, which was published in 1981. Could he be some sort of police dog instead of the one owned by remote car mechanic? Could there be a whole unit of rabid Cujos? Given that it’s referred to as a reboot, maybe Elliott wants a franchise, and so maybe multiple murderous mutts. Or just one really big one who isn’t immediately killed off.

The latest update comes via press release focused on actor DJ Perry (Ghost Town: The Movie) signing on to star. The character he’ll play is not revealed, though, and if you recall the 1983 adaptation the main characters consist of a mother (Dee Wallace), her young son (Danny Pintauro) and a killer St. Bernard. He could be the husband/father or the sheriff perhaps. Here is what Lang had to say about the actor in the release: “DJ Perry sets a new refreshing standard from the typical Hollywood actors. Besides being extremely talented, DJ does stunts, martial arts and can stop bullets with his teeth! He does it all.” That last talent will be good if Cujo is armed in this version.

The press release also shares a photo of the giant dog who will apparently portray the title canine, but that photo seems to be a well-circulated pic on lists and videos of the biggest dogs ever. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’s not the dog cast for the movie, of course.

Reportedly the reboot has a finished script (the writer of which is not shared) and is possibly going into production soon.

Here’s a trailer for the first adaptation of “Cujo”:

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.