After years without an agency behind him, the writer has acquired representatives specifically focused on his adaptations.
I still remember the precise moment I first picked up and began reading a Dean Koontz novel. It was at my local library when I was a teenager, and I came across a copy of Phantoms on a paperback spindle. The cover was black with just the outline of a face, and the back mentioned swollen bodies, heads in ovens, and an entire town slaughtered or disappeared… and I was immediately hooked. Koontz quickly joined the roster of writers whose books were automatically added to my reading list alongside the likes of Stephen King, Robert Bloch, and Charles L. Grant.
Phantoms is a phenomenal horror novel, and I soon came to love more of his titles including Watchers, The Bad Place, Lightning, Dark Rivers of the Heart, Strangers, Hideaway, and many more. The new millennium brought more winners like Odd Thomas, The Husband, and The Good Guy, but it also saw Koontz descend into the rut of heavily incorporating ideas of faith and destiny into his stories to the point that the characters all felt the same.
Koontz’s history of film adaptations is far more checkered, far less successful, and endlessly surprising for an author who’s sold half a billion books worldwide.
He had two books adapted in the late ’70s – the sleek thriller Shattered became a French film I still have yet to find, and his rapey computer book Demon Seed became a movie about a rapey computer – but it wasn’t until ’88 that Hollywood truly came calling.
First out of the gate was Watchers, the smart and sensitive tale of a suicidal soldier and a super-smart retriever, so of course it became a movie starring a teenage Corey Haim in the lead role. Three “sequels” followed, but they’re essentially all reboots of the same story. (And for the record, Watchers II starring Marc Singer is the best of the bunch.) Two competent but low-key adaptations followed with Whispers and Servants of Twilight, and then finally his break appeared on the horizon in the form of two high profile features in the ‘90s.
Hideaway brought together director Brett Leonard (Virtuosity), screenwriter Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven), and stars Jeff Goldblum, Jeremy Sisto, and Alicia Silverstone but failed to capture the excitement and dark thrills of Koontz’s novel. It bombed at the box-office. Three years later the first of his books I ever read hit the screen with a sexy, young, Miramax-approved cast headlined by Ben Affleck, Rose McGowan, and Peter O’Toole, and boasting a script from Koontz himself. Sadly, it also bombed yo.
It was a long fifteen years before one of his novels reached the big screen again, but despite the presence of Anton Yelchin and Addison Timlin the perfectly mediocre Odd Thomas failed to spark much in the way of attention.
Koontz had a bit more success on television with solidly-produced TV movies and mini-series including The Face of Fear, Intensity, Mr. Murder, and Sole Survivor. There was also something called Black River, but I’ve neither seen it nor read the source novella.
All of this is a long-winded way of saying that after years of low-profile adaptations and a real lack of movement in bringing his work to the screen – and after years without agency representation focused on getting his work optioned – Koontz has signed with Brillstein Entertainment Partners. He now has two agents working to get his books adapted, and if they’re smart they’ll start with the following: Dark Rivers of the Heart, Velocity, The Husband, and The Good Guy.