For almost 40 years, the works of master scaremonger Stephen King have never exactly wanted for popularity. That said, interest in King’s fiction has experienced something of a resurgence recently – Carrie, his first published novel, is getting a new film adaptation this year; Under the Dome will appear as a miniseries event on CBS this summer; and a prequel to the original film adaptation of The Shining may just be in the wings.
Now, a more recent offering from King looks to be on the block for adaptation. J.J. Abrams’ production company Bad Robot will apparently be adapting the time travel novel 11/22/63 for the small screen.
Deadline reports that Bad Robot is in final negotiations for the rights to 11/22/63. The company intends to create a television series or miniseries around the property. It’s likely that Bad Robot intends 11/22/63 for a cable audience.
A huge, sprawling novel, 11/22/63 follows unassuming high school teacher Jake Epping as a dying friend shows him a portal that leads to a sunny morning in September, 1958. Jake is tasked with a seemingly impossible mission: To go back in time and find a way to stop the killing of John F. Kennedy. Though Jake throws himself into the task, it turns out that history doesn’t like being toyed with. When even minor events resist being changed, will Jake even have a chance of stopping the most infamous assassination of the 20th century?
King’s book was a notable critical hit when it released in 2011, garnering far kinder reviews than many of the author’s more recent releases. As such, the desire to secure film/television rights to the work is not unexpected.
That said, 11/22/63 may be extremely difficult to craft an effective television series around. The book is (largely) devoid of the ghouls and horrors that pepper King’s other work, instead taking its time to meticulously recreate the world of late 1950s/early 60s America. There is good deal of attention given to tracking, watching, and confirming the guilt of Lee Harvey Oswald – so much so that the book almost becomes a fictionalized biography of the assassin. All of this makes for interesting reading, but television audiences may find the deliberate pace and infrequent action tedious.
Of course, even a series adaptation of 11/22/63 could trim quite a bit of fat. There are more than a few suspenseful sequences from the book that could transfer well to television – particularly those in which Jake attempts to change the past and finds time itself fighting back in increasingly underhanded ways. Bad Robot has shepherded many worthwhile projects to completion; with any luck, 11/22/63 will end up in the pantheon next to Lost and Fringe.
11/22/63 does not yet have an air date or even a network on which it will appear, but we’ll keep you updated as news becomes available.