Chloe Moreitz has been offered the lead in MGM’s in adaption of Stephen King’s first published novel Carrie. Moreitz will now go into negotiations with the studio to portray the shy and socially awkward teenager who uses her newly developed psychic powers to lash back at the classmates who taunt her.
Moretz reportedly beat out a number of other contenders for the role including Dakota Fanning.
Previously, the book was adapted to film by Brian DePalma, earning both Sissy Spacek, who played Carrie, and Piper Laurie, who played her mother, Academy Award nominations. The film also served as early career vehicles for Amy Irving, Nancy Allen, John Travolta, Betty Buckley and William Katt. The film’s box office success set off a seemingly unending parade of King film adaptations, though a majority of them did not reach the level of critical or financial success that Carrie earned.
This new version will be directed by Kim Peirce, who will set out to cast the rest of the film once Moreitz’s deal is set.
There are some that might say that doing a big screen version of Stephen King’s The Stand is a bit superfluous. After all, there was quite good six-hour ABC miniseries that did the tome justice back in 1994, one which could be bought at Amazon for $24.99 (and contains a copy of The Langoliers and The Golden Years as well).
However, Hollywood being what it is and the miniseries being almost 20 years old, Warner Brothers is dead set on bringing the novel to the big screen. At least they have gone in a good direction for…well…a director.
Deadline is reporting that Warner Brothers has tapped Ben Affleck to helm the big screen version of King’s seminal work. Harry Potter‘s David Yates was recently said to be in negotiations for the director’s chair.
While Affleck might have been the bomb in Phantoms, yo, he has made his name in recent years as a director, receiving good notices for Gone Baby Gone and The Town. Those good notices were well deserved, but he is entering new territory. The Stand is a sweeping epic that had trouble fitting into a six-hour TV miniseries. You can’t imagine Affleck having any more than half that amount of time to tell the same amount of plot. Good luck to you sir.
In a multi-part series, Comic Book Film Editor William Gatevackes will be tracing the history of comic book movies from the earliest days of the film serials to today’s big blockbusters and beyond. Along with the history lesson, Bill will be covering some of the most prominent comic book films over the years and why they were so special. This time, we’ll continue our look at EC Comics with a number of films the company inspired in the 1980s and 1990s.
If EC Comics helped redefine horror for the 1950s (and beyond), then you can make the argument that George Romero did the same for the 1960s (and beyond) and Stephen King did it for the 1970s (and beyond).
Romero’s 1968 film, Night of the Living Dead, revolutionized the world of film horror, creating a still existing zombie craze but also showing, like the EC books, that you can slip social satire and commentary into a film about cannibalistic ghouls. The prolific King changed the way the world looked at print horror with works such as Carrie, The Shining, The Stand, amongst others, much of which was adapted for both the big and small screen.
Naturally, both men would be influenced by the EC books, and they showed their love for the company’s offerings when they collaborated on the 1982 film, Creepshow.
While Creepshow was not directly adapted from any particular EC comic, the tone and style of the film has EC written all over it. The film has a similar structure as the Amicus Productions adaptations from the 70s, with five independent stories joined together by a framing sequence (with a “Creepshow” comic book serving as an instigator for each of the segments). The segments themselves, all directed by Romero, were either adapted from King’s short stories or written specifically for the screen by King himself.
But those stories were essentially love letters to the EC Comics that were published three decades before. They consisted of many of the staples that made EC Comics great— gallows humor, the wronged dead coming back to life to exact vengeance, and plenty of O’Henry-esque twists.
The pair reunited five years later for Creepshow 2, with Romero stepping down as director and instead acting as a screenwriter who adapted King’s stories for the film:
There are only three stories this time instead of five, but the “Creepshow” comic book plays a role once again in the framing sequence.
There was a Creepshow III made in 2007…
but this film was a sequel in name only. Neither King nor Romero had anything to do with it, the comic book framing sequence was removed, and replaced by an interwoven narrative connecting the various segments, ala Pulp Fiction. Tom Savini, friend and frequent collaborator to George Romero, has stated that 1990’s Tales From the Darkside: The Movie, was the ipso facto sequel to Creepshow 2.
Stephen King and George Romero do reunite for the film, which was a big screen adaptation of the syndicated TV series of the same time, but only on one of the three segments (“Cat From Hell”) and only as writers (the film was directed not by Romero, but by John Harrison). The film does feature a similar framing sequence to the first two Creepshow films, but without the comic book framing sequence.
In 1985, another story from an EC book was adapted for the big screen, although it is a bit hard to make the connection. The film? Weird Science.
Wait! That's not the way Wyatt and Gary did it!
The film, written and directed by John Hughes, loosely adapts “Made of the Future” from Weird Science #5 (1951). Very loosely.
The original story is about a man, just jilted by his fiancée, who inadvertently bumps into a tour group from the future. On a lark, he returns to the future with the tourists and finds that men of the future are able to buy kits to construct their own wives. He brings a kit back home and, well, creates his own wife.
The film centers on a pair of unpopular teenagers named Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell Smith) and Gary (Anthony Michael Hall). Their answer to improve their social standing involved a computer, data concerning their ideal woman, hacking a Government computer for more power, and a Barbie doll. These elements combine to form Lisa (Kelly LeBrock), an incredibly attractive woman who exhibited super powers and existed, literally, only to serve Wyatt and Gary.
The two stories were so different that I, for many years, wasn’t able to put two and two together and realize that they were connected. But connected they are, apparently.
In the 1990s, HBO created a TV series based on the EC books called Tales from the Crypt. Every episode of the series, which ran from 1989 to 1996, was adapted from an EC book. The series was produced by an all-star lineup of Hollywood heavyweights, including Richard Donner, Walter Hill, Joel Silver, David Geffen and Robert Zemeckis and many Hollywood stars appeared in the series, either in front of the camera (Demi Moore, Joe Pesci, Whoopi Goldberg, Brad Pitt) or behind the camera, as director (Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael J. Fox, Tom Hanks).
Due to the popularity of the TV series, the Tales from the Crypt brand was brought to the big screen in a planned trilogy of feature films. These films acted essentially as longer episode of the TV series, with each film being introduced by the show’s host, the Crypt Keeper, yet none were directly adapted from an EC comic book. The first film in the series was 1995’s Tales from the Crypt Presents: Demon Knight.
The script for Demon Knight was bouncing around Hollywood for years before the Tales from the Crypt name was attached to it. The plot involved a supernatural and long-lived guardian (William Sadler) who exists only to kill demons, and a stand-off between the guardian and a high level demon (Billy Zane) in a small New Mexico town. The follow-up was 1996’s Tales from the Crypt Presents: Bordello of Blood.
This installment was originally planned to be a zombie film set in New Orleans called “Dead Easy,” but that film morphed into a vampire flick where an acerbic private eye (Dennis Miller) takes a case of a woman (Erika Eleniak) who is searching for her missing brother (Corey Feldman). The trail leads to a bordello housing a legion of vampire prostitutes led by the “mother of all vampires” (Angie Everhart). The most memorable part of the movie, for me, was Miller’s character going into battle against the vampires with a Super Soaker loaded with Holy Water. I thought that was inventive.
Bordello of Blood was a box office failure. The third film of the trilogy, named Ritual, was never released in the U.S. and was only released overseas with all mentions of Tales from the Crypt removed from it (they were replaced for the U.S. DVD release). The film centered on a voodoo cult and zombies and starred Tim Curry, Jennifer Grey and Craig Sheffer. A company by the name of EMO Films had picked up the rights to the EC Comics line in 2009, so perhaps we’ll see more adaptations in the future.
Next time, we’ll cover some underground comix entering the world of underground film.
Despite Universal Studios passing on producer Brian Glazer, Ron Howard and Akiva Goldsman’s epic plans for adapting Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, the trio are still determined to get the project made. Today, NY Post gossip column Page Six quoted Glazer as stating “[We're] trying to get outside financing to make it, and distribute it through a major [studio].”
Glazer and Howard’s Imagine Entertainment’s plans for The Dark Tower call for the book to be adapted as three films with two television series bridging parts 1 and two and parts two and three. Universal cautiously only wanted to give a greenlight to just a first film while Imagine was hoping that the studio would give the go-ahead forthe first film and television series.
Interestingly, Glazer is also paraphrased as stating that “they also planned to go ahead with the TV spin-offs of the horror Western fantasies, but through other networks or even Netflix.”
Netflix has been looking to expand its available streaming content with original programming, and two Dark Tower tie-in series would definitely be a way to attract lots of attention, and hopefully, subscribers. But Netflix is currently in the process of spending lots of money over the next couple of years as its various contracts with studios to allow streaming of their films come up for renewals. These were relatively inexpensive deals last time around when streaming was a fairly unknown quantity. However, since its popularity has skyrocketed, studios will now be charging more for the rights for Netflix to continue.
In the meantime, Howard goes into production soon on his Formula One race movie Rush, leaving Grazer some more time to try and find the financing needed to bring The Dark Tower to film.
This time it is being reported that director Jonathan Demme has optioned the author’s upcoming novel 11/22/63 with the hopes of writing, directing and producing an adaption of the story.
Those of you who remember your basic American history, you will have no doubt identified the date as the day that President John F Kennedy was killed by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Texas. (Notice I didn’t name the assassin?)
Stephen King’s website gives us a quick synopsis of the novel (preorder here),which is due to be published in November –
Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students—a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night 50 years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk.
Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane—and insanely possible—mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life—a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
While I’m not much of a King fan, I have to admit that this does sound like it could be a fun story. We’ll find out if it is good fodder for a big screen treatment later this fall when the novel hits store shelves.
Although one ambitious Stephen King adaption has recently withered on the vine (The Dark Tower over at Universal), another ambitious King adaption is starting to show signs of life.
Warner Brothers is in negotiations with screenwriter Steve Kloves to begin work on bringing King’s apocalyptic epic The Stand to the big screen as a series of films. Kloves will be working alongside director David Yates who is also in negotiations with the studio.
The two had previously shepherded the last four Harry Potter films for the studio. With this summer’s finale of that franchise, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, having already pulled in $1.1 billion at the world wide box office, it is clear that the studio is hoping that the pair can work similar magic with the material here.
A multi-film Stand adaption would definitely fit into Warner’s desire to have a number of blockbuster tentpole features on their release calendar for the next several years. They are also currently working at developing many of the superhero characters owned by corporate sibling DC Entertainment for films as well.
The one question that hovers over this proposed franchise concerns its rating. Dealing with the apocalypse and such things, it would be very easy for the films to stray into an R rating territory. Such a rating would, of course, impact the films’ box office receipts, something the studio would obviously wish to avoid. (For a similar instance, see Guillermo del Toro’s clash with Universal over the rating for his proposed adaption of H P Lovecraft’s At The Mountains Of Madness.) Granted the television mini-series adaption of the book back in the 1990s managed to tell the story with the far greater restrictions placed on that medium, so a PG-13 rated Stand could be done. But will that water down things too much for fans?
It appears that Imagine Entertainment’s plan to adapt Stephen King’s mangum opus The Dark Tower into a three film series with two connecting television series may just be a bit too ambitious for Universal Studios to invest in. The studio has passed on the project despite the participation of such Oscar winners as Ron Howard set to direct, Javier Bardem as the series’ lead character gunslinger Roland Deschain and writer Akiva Goldsman handling script details.
The project could have potentially been the largest of any kind of production, surpassing Peter Jackson’s decision to shoot all three Lord Of The Rings films simultaneously.
The news is a reversal of the indications that Universal was thinking of moving ahead with the project. Recently, the studio had given indications that they wanted production to start early next year.
According to Deadline, who broke the story, Universal was only willing to commit to making the first film while producers Brian Glazer, Howard and King were pushing for a greenlight for the first film and connective television series.
Universal’s passing isn’t much of a surprise. The studio has been fairly financially conservative when it comes to what projects it puts in front of the cameras recently. It recently shot down Guillermo del Toro’s H. P. Lovecraft adaption At The Mountains Of Madness over concerns of investing $1509 million into a film which would have a limited audience due to its probable R rating.
This doesn’t mean that The Dark Tower is a dead project, however. Imagine is now free to shop the project to another studio to find if someone is willing to take a gamble that Universal wasn’t.
If you happen to be in central Ohio this weekend, you may want to swing by the town of Mansfield for their Shawshank Redemptionreunion weekend. It was 15 years ago that the Hollywood production, lead by stars Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, descended upon their tow, attracted by the prospect of using the Mansfield Reformatory prison for a bulk of the shooting. Other locations used in the film include the Wyandot County Courthouse and nearby Malabar Farm.
According to an article in the Plains Dealer, none of the film’s main stars are expected to attend. Instead the weekend is for the locals who worked on the film and anyone else who wants to walk the cell blocks and other locations where the film was made. You can find more information at the event’s website.
There are those who say that visiting a location used in a movie breaks the illusion of reality that the film creates. I find the opposite to be true. I have repeatedly stood at various filming locations and in my mind’s eye, replayed the scenes shot there, suddenly gaining a more vibrant reality as those scenes run in my mind. And, for a brief moment, I can also see myself in the film. I have been in the Red Bank, New Jersey convenience store used by Kevin Smith in Clerks and been treated poorly by the counter help. I have stood outside the Ghostbustersfirehouse in New York, have expecting to see Ecto-1 come screaming out of the bay door on its way to a call. I have stood outside the Upper West Side apartment of Holly Golightly and the The House On 92nd Street on the Upper East Side, wondering what was going on behind their doors. When I walk by City Hall in downtown Philadelphia, I can’t help but look up to see if there are any lions on the roof as there were in Twelve Monkeys.
And perhaps this weekend, some folks will walk through an old prison in Ohio and make a similar connection.