“In a holding pattern” is never something you want to hear about a movie which is in development, but it’s exactly how producer Roy Lee just described the current state of the long-gestating adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand.
To recap: There was a book, a particularly long one. It was good, like a less obnoxious Left Behind. Then Stephen King spent 16 years trying to get it made as a movie. Finally, he settled on a four-part 1994 ABC mini-series. It starred Ed Harris, Gary Sinese, Molly Ringwald, Rob Lowe, and Dylan McKay’s dad as the bad guy. It seemed fairly awesome at the time, less so now, but, hey, Stephen King finally got his book on screen.
Not good enough! Warner Bros. has been trying to turn it into a big budget movie since 2011. The Fault in Our Stars‘ Josh Boone joined to write and direct in 2014, and last year they considered a highly experimental approach which would begin with an eight-part miniseries on Showtime as a precursor to a single big budget movie released in theaters. That’s a pretty cool idea. If HBO can get people to buy tickets to see IMAX screenings of Game of Thrones episodes why couldn’t you use a mini-series to launch a big theatrical movie? I like it. Bravo, people who came up with the idea.
Actually, boo to the people who came up with the idea because it’s apparently completely impractical. Boone has moved on to a different Stephen King adaptation, Revival, which is being set up at Universal. WB’s option on The Stand has passed, and the rights have reverted to CBS Films. Roy Lee exclusively told Collider how exactly this all went down:
“Right now it’s just in a holding pattern trying to figure out how to best make the movie because we’ve toyed with breaking it up into multiple movies, making it into one, making it into two […] There was definitely talk about doing [it as a miniseries first] but the logistics made it very difficult to try to do a worldwide launch of a movie when the TV component would not necessarily be released at the same time worldwide. So it became a logistic nightmare to try to figure that out, so that plan was abandoned. That’s why there was this discussion about going to HBO or Netflix to try to do a series that launched before a movie, but we’ve been opened to everything just to make it work. I think TV would be great but Stephen King believes that his version—the miniseries that was done before is a very good interpretation of the novel.”
“That’s why we’ve been experimenting with trying to see what the one movie would look like. If you do the one movie, you obviously have to take out a big portion of the book, so trying to balance what to keep and what to cut out was a long process because there’s so much to go through. So that’s why it’s been a long process. Right now it’s written as two movies.”
Boone is still attached to direct and writer whatever becomes of The Stand after Revival, but, well, M-O-O-N, that spells “development hell.”
The Stand once felt unique, but it now tells a very familiar story in a pop culture landscape littered with disease otbreak movies (Outbreak, Contagion) and TV shows (BBC’s Survivors, Netflix’s Between) and an embarrassingly large supply of post-apocalyptic stories (The Walking Dead, which ups the ante with zombies). You could argue that The Stand‘s pop culture moment has come and gone, but if a new TV or movie version ever happens I’ll be interested to check it out.
Get ready for me to shill for myself in 3, 2, 1…