Stephen King Properties Awaiting Adaptations: Novels

Introduction

I’m rather sure that this is the list in this series that most people have been waiting for. Stephen King’s novels be they gargantuan or modestly sized are where most know him from, and it’s where most of his noticeable unadapted works reside.

And as I planned on completing this series on his birthday; Happy Birthday, Mr. King!

Omissions

With King being so prolific, so many means of adaptation, as well as phases of production there are quite a few omissions:

  • One note about this list is that since The Dark Tower is in production, I have omitted those books from this list, clearly the idea is to start with The Gunslinger and proceed from there.
  • The Colorado Kid, Under the Dome, and 11/22/63 having been morphed into TV series are also exempt.
  • Titles currently in any stage of development are excluded namely: Rose Madder, Mister Mercedes (TV series, as well it should be), and Lisey’s Story.
  • Although it’s no guarantee there was just an announcement made that Mike Flanagan is developing an adaptation of Gerald’s Game for Netflix, so I’ll be optimistic and assume that happens, so I’ll skip on it also.
  • I include Black House in the section on The Talisman. However, with it being a sequel to the the latter I cannot imagine it going first for obvious reasons.

7. Insomnia

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Stephen King wrote, in On Writing I believe, how with all due apologies to his fans who enjoyed it, Insomnia was one of the books he didn’t consider to be very good. Aside from the occasional brilliant image, which would be useful in a film version granted, I don’t see much cause for this one to be adapted, and am not surprised it hasn’t been. However, if the old adage of a bad or mediocre book making a great movie maybe it’s a nut someone can crack when no options remain, and Hollywood is still refusing to buy an original screenplay.

6. Duma Key

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Inasmuch as it also deals with paintings that’s where I see a similarity between this and Rose Madder. Why I place Duma Key slightly higher (than Rose Madder would’ve been) in the pecking order is that merely the fact that this is a more extroverted and cohesive effort making the transition in medium easier.

 

5. From a Buick 8

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This is Stephen King’s other car-related novel but is nowhere near the fantastical end that Christine was, and perhaps that’s why it’s not been looked at as a possible film yet.  I wouldn’t mind seeing it but as you can tell, I have quite a few ahead of it.

4. The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon

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A few personal items here in the interest of full disclosure (non-sports fans can go down past the photo): one I am a Yankees fan, and as such the only King book I never read is Faithful his collaboration with Stewart O’Nan that chronicled the Red Sox breaking of The Curse of the Bambino. Not that I begrudge them having won in principal, and as a writer I wished my teenage self had chronicled the New York Rangers ending the curse of 1940 (something I felt in my bones would happen in the preseason), but it was the fact that it was against the Yankees, and overcoming a 3-0 deficit (a comeback I also felt coming), that I skipped it.

Once upon a time I considered The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon part of The Curse no one much talked about. Just after the book came out in April of 1999, Gordon only pitched 17 more innings in a Red Sox uniform. He had elbow issues and ultimately needed Tommy John surgery. Missed all of the 2000 and was then let go by the Sox. Coming full circle on the Curse he was on that Yankees team that lost to the Red Sox.

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Tom (Left) and Dee Gordon.

The book tells of a young girl gets separate from her parents in the woods, something may be following her and she relies on her wits and her imagined version of Red Sox star Tom Gordon to help her. The set-up is fairy visual even with all the inner monologue in the story, it doesn’t necessarily need a lot of dialogue and much of that can be externalized or turned into visuals. I’m not sure if it’s the specificity of the title (like that stopped The Shawshank Redemption from making the title more marketable by leaving Rita Hayworth by the wayside) or the fact that interest may be limited in a fictional version of a relief pitcher. It can work. Now it’d have the added bonus of being a period piece. And who knows maybe Tom’s son Dee, also a Major Leaguer, wants to give acting a shot.

4. Joyland

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Any amusement park or carnival them in Horror has a certain amount of visual potential, add a ghost and an unsolved murder into the mix and it could have even more. What it is prone to would be a touch too much cinematic cheese and/or a dampened impact by virtue of a non-traditionally unsettling setting. Still I would like to see someone take a stab at this because for every Funhouse, where the atmosphere doesn’t help it much, there is a Goosebumps or Zombieland that uses the locale expertly.

3. Doctor Sleep

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I love the idea of a film based on Doctor Sleep. However, there’s no gimmickry that would work to tie it in to The Shining in my mind. You can’t really parallel it to the Kubrick version or the mini-series in any kind of way that would work, nor do I think producing it as a tandem of new films with a new version of The Shining before it would work either.

The most I can say about making it work in a cinematic context is to have a really good casting director look at Danny Lloyd, see who may

2. The Talisman

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Though I chose this as my number two selection, I am far more baffled by The Talisman not having been adapted yet than by any other King title. It is one of my earliest reads, one of my favorite books, and one I know has passed through more than one option: none other than Steven Spielberg has this in his docket and some point.

The narrative is lovely and simple, the magic seems real, and one of King’s greatest protagonists abounds. And while it was rumored a while ago, CGI technology has clearly advanced far enough to hand the fantastical elements of this tale. I have nothing but praise for this as a possible adaptation.

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As for the sequel Black House, clearly it can’t happen before The Talisman. Not sure it will but it would be amazing if, in an ideal world, if there was a long layoff between The Talisman and this. Maybe even retaining original cast members like whomever is cast as Jack.

1. The Eyes of the Dragon

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It’s a wonder, it can get under your skin, yet is a fairy tale the likes of which you might actually read aloud to your kids. And as opposed to the runner-up it’s not a leviathan page count tale. There clearly is no good reason to my mind why this has not happened yet. With Dark Tower films would there be enough of a lull to have casting crossover as well? McConaughey as Flagg? Alright, alright, alright. Idris Elba as King Roland? Hell, yes!

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