Stephen King is suddenly the most popular writer in Hollywood, even though he’s been the industry’s safety-net, go-to scribe for decades. Beginning with Brian DePalma’s Carrie way, way back in 1976 — based on King’s first published novel — virtually every one of his short stories, novellas, and novels has been adapted for the large or small screens. 2017 was argubly King’s best year — in terms of quantity and quality — in decades, and it appears that the horror master’s renaissance is just getting started.
Last year was indeed wild for King adaptations, as his works were splattered all across the entertainment spectrum. The Mist hit cable’s Spike (but was cancelled after one season); The Dark Tower finally earned the movie treatment it deserved (but the sloppy film was undeserving of much praise); Mr. Mercedes landed on the Audience channel (whatever that is); Netflix got a little greedy with both Gerald’s Game and 1922; and finally King’s magnum opus, It — a book once thought unfilmable — was made for peanuts and became one of the biggest hits of the year. King was suddenly hot again, even if some of his adaptations came in a little cool.
However, 2018 is setting up as quite a different animal for King, no new films but two major adaptations for small screens (TV, mobile, laptop, probably VR too). The Dark Tower may have been a cinematic flop, but according to Digital Spy, it’s being rebooted as a TV or streaming series by Sony (network currently unknown). Potentially even more exciting is J.J. Abrams and Hulu’s upcoming streaming series, Castle Rock, which SlashFilm describes as an anthology series based on the “multiverse” of the entirety of King’s works. Details about this series are slightly opaque, probably by design, and even King is a little in the dark (as he likely prefers):
“I’m as much in the dark as anybody else. I don’t know anything about it so I just hope it turns out really well. It must be going okay. It’s typical J.J. [Abrams] There’s been nothing that I’ve seen in the press, or anything, about it.”
That rather lukewarm assertion by King belies the epic potential for this series, which mashes together many of King’s past storylines and characters, led by retired Sheriff Alan Pangborn (Scott Glenn) from Needful Things and The Dark Half. A spooky teaser, packed full of easter eggs, dropped in early October, containing a montage of moody characters and moments of shock — it’s a mood-setter. Here’s the official synopsis:
“A psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King’s literary career: Cujo, The Dark Half, IT and Needful Things, as well as novella The Body and numerous short stories such as Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption are either set there or contain references to Castle Rock. Castle Rock is an original suspense/thriller — a first-of-its-kind reimagining that explores the themes and worlds uniting the entire King canon, while brushing up against some of his most iconic and beloved stories.”
Castle Rock’s initial cast is a who’s who of genre scenery-chewers, including: Sissy Spacek (Carrie), Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness), Terry O’Quinn (Lost), Jane Levy (Don’t Breathe), Bill Skarsgard (It), and of course Glenn (Daredevil). Each of these actors plays a beloved King character or resides in one of the mythical corners of his grim universe. As the series evolves, expect more characters to float in and out of the storytelling.
Castle Rock is just the thing Hulu needs to keep pace with the other streamers like Amazon (who announced a Lord of the Rings series), Netflix (who continues to dump billions into original content), and Disney (who’s expected to blow the lid off of the streaming wars with their new service in late 2019). If you’re going into (digital content) combat, having Stephen King in your foxhole is one helluva secret weapon!
Castle Rock hits Hulu sometime in 2018. (Probably when you least expect it!)