Pop culture is in the middle of a Stephen King renaissance. While the horror maestro never truly slowed down — he has been releasing novels on an almost yearly basis for decades, spawning their own library of films and TV shows — 2017 has seen a dramatic wave of King adaptations. Gerald’s Game, 11/22/63, and It have all drawn acclaim, the latter of which smashed box office records. Despite some missteps (The Dark Tower and the recent TV adaptation of The Mist) the King era seems unstoppable.
Given the recent string of successes, and King’s ever readiness to let directors tackle his works, there will surely be more King adaptations on the horizon, and many such projects are already coming down the pipeline. Here are all the Stephen King movies and shows likely to come your way sooner than later.
Longtime King readers will recognize the name Castle Rock, the fictional town in Maine that has served as a setting in many of King’s works, from Needful Things to Cujo. JJ Abrams is producing a series titled Castle Rock for Hulu, and the first teaser emphasizes the towns connections to numerous stories and characters. The plot of the series is an enigma for now. The cast includes Melanie Lynskey, André Holland, and Bill Skarsgård, who portrayed the fiendish Pennywise in It; might Skarsgård reprise his horrifying role for Castle Rock? The only sure thing about Castle Rock is its pedigree. Side note: Abrams recently produced another excellent adaptation from King’s catalog, 11/22/63, for Hulu.
One of King’s most recent novels, Revival, is a return of sorts to the ominous horror that defined his early successes. The novel follows the relationship between a boy named Jamie Morton and his town’s new preacher, Charlie Jacobs, who casts away his beliefs after a tragic event. As an adult, Jamie stumbles upon Charlie, and the two men reconnect with horrifying consequences. Revival is in many ways an homage to the cosmic horror stories of H.P. Lovecraft. It’s a tale in which man is a mere gnat before the terrible powers of forces beyond his comprehension. Director Josh Boone (The Fault in Our Stars) is directing the film, and claimed in an interview with Creative Screenwriting that Russell Crowe is involved.
Josh Boone has also been working on a new adaptation of The Stand, one of King’s most famous and beloved works. Back in 2014, Boone claimed to have finished the screenplay, however, he has since put the film on hold to direct Revival. An epic tale of good fighting evil in the ruins of what was once America, The Stand previously appeared on screens in a 1994 miniseries, and recently King has indicated that there have been talks about adapting The Stand again for TV. For now, fans will have to wait to see if a new version of The Stand materializes, but given the recent boom in King adaptations, it seems like a matter of “when,” not “if.”
‘It: Part II’
This has been a banner year for King adaptations, with none more successful than It. Andy Muschietti’s first half of King’s lengthy classic has become the most successful horror film of all time, while also garnering critical praise. King’s novel jumped back and forth between two time periods: The protagonists’ youth in Derry, Maine, and their lives as adults decades later. The characters are haunted by a shapeshifting, man-eating entity they call “It,” which can take whatever form will frighten its victims (though, its most frequent disguise is Pennywise the Dancing Clown). Muschietti will return to direct the sequel, which is currently scheduled for release on September 6, 2019. There’s no word yet regarding casting, but Skarsgård will undoubtedly return for the role of Pennywise, while the sequel is expected to bounce between the new adult cast and the kids from the first film.
‘The Dark Tower’ TV series
King has written dozens of novels over the course of his career, but his magnum opus is The Dark Tower, a series of eight novels that blend elements of fantasy, horror, and Westerns. The Dark Tower isn’t just a great tale on its own; it ties into many of King’s other novels, all of which take place in the same multiverse. Given the importance of The Dark Tower in King’s oeuvre, fans may have been disappointed with the recent film adaptation — critics certainly were. Our own reviewer didn’t hate it, but found it “unremarkable … too thin to be exceptionally bad.” Despite the film’s poor reception, Sony Pictures already had plans for a larger universe, including a TV series exploring the origins of the protagonist, the gunslinger Roland. For the most part, the series seems to still be in the planning stages, though King recently mentioned in an interview with Vulture that it may be a complete reboot.
The Shining (published 1977) is one of King’s most famous novels — and while he may not have liked Kubrick’s film adaptation, it is undoubtedly one of the greatest horror movies ever made. The Shining tells a superb story about ghosts, alcoholism, and violence. In 2013, King released a distant sequel to The Shining, titled Doctor Sleep, which picks up the story of Danny Torrance. Just a boy in The Shining, Danny is now an adult, traveling the country and trying to quell his ghosts (both figurative and literal). Settling in New Hampshire, Danny uses his psychic powers to comfort dying hospice patients, but when he meets a young psychic named Abra, he decides to protect her from a roving gang of psychic vampires called the True Knot. It’s a wild concept, and moviegoers may eventually see it rendered on the big screen. Akiva Goldsman, who also worked on The Dark Tower film, is handling the script for Doctor Sleep. Other than that, details are scarce.
A short story with an unsettling ending, The Jaunt takes place in a future where humanity has developed the technology needed to teleport. People use this technology to “Jaunt” great distances, even to other planets, but must do so while knocked out via anesthesia; early experiments with Jaunting rendered conscious subjects dead or insane. Brad Pitt’s production company, Plan B, obtained the rights to adapt The Jaunt in 2015, according to Deadline, with It director Andy Muschietti attached. We haven’t seen any new developments since then, however.
‘Hearts in Atlantis’
Despite the title, this film won’t share a plot with the 2001 film starring Anthony Hopkins and Anton Yelchin. That film was actually based on two short stories, Low Men in Yellow Coats and Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling, which bookend King’s short story collection Hearts in Atlantis. Johannes Roberts’ upcoming film is based on the eponymous story from that collection which follows a group of college students, who have gotten deferments from the draft, reflecting on the state of society during the Vietnam War. They also become addicted to the card game Hearts, which starts to hurt their grades, putting them at risk of losing their deferments. Roberts’ recent films have included horror movie The Other Side of the Door and shark thriller 47 Meters Down, neither of which inspire much hope for the quality of Hearts, but at the very least he appears to have reverence for the source material.
James Franco seems to be one of the busiest men in Hollywood. Among his many projects — he recently starred in HBO’s excellent drama, The Deuce — Franco is working on an adaptation of King’s Drunken Fireworks, a rare comedic tale from the novelist. The story follows Alden McCausland, a mechanic who stumbles upon a fortune and decides to spend some time relaxing by Lake Abenaki. Across the lake, however, is a mansion belonging to the Massimo crime family. Eager to strut, McCausland decides to outshine the Massimos with a Fourth of July display, prompting a rivalry that grows in intensity over the years. This is not Franco’s first involvement with a King story; he starred in JJ Abrams’ adaptation of 11/22/63 (which Franco had originally asked permission to adapt, only to learn Abrams beat him to it).