‘The Stand’: Ben Affleck on the Difficulties of Adapting Stephen King’s Book

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 15th, 2014 at 4:30 pm,

The task of turning Stephen King’s The Stand into a feature-length movie has long been viewed as a difficult one at best (a near-insurmountable challenge at worst), for one simple reason: the original book – which varies from 800-1100 pages long, depending on the edition – is divided into three segments which could each suffice as an individual film on its own (amusingly, it’s the opposite of the dilemma facing Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy, where one book is stretched over three films).

Ben Affleck was recruited by Warner Bros. a year ago to help screenwriter David Kajganich (Blood Creek) condense King’s tome into a manageable size, with the plan for Affleck to direct. The Oscar-winner has since been linked to other projects – and with good reason, given the (lack of) progress being made on The Stand.

For the uninitiated, King’s novel is composed of three sections. The first (“Captain Trips”) details the collapse of our civilization as the result of a human-engineered super flu; the second (“On the Border”) picks up in a post-apocalyptic wasteland where the few survivors rally around two spiritual leaders (one for good, the other evil); the third segment (“The Stand”) chronicles the final confrontation between the dual human camps, in a battle that will determine the future of our world.

Here is what Affleck had to offer GQ about adapting all three portions of The Stand:

“Right now we’re having a very hard time,” he says. “But I like the idea—it’s like The Lord of the Rings in America. And it’s about how we would reinvent ourselves as a society. If we started all over again, what would we do?”

Affleck is riding high on the success of his true story-based historical drama/thriller Argo, which has improved on both the critical reception and financial returns from his previous directorial efforts (Gone Baby Gone and The Town). However, King’s horror/sci-fi/apocalypse epic is another monster altogether – one that’s worlds apart from Affleck’s past adaptations – which makes it all the more understandable that the actor/filmmaker and Kajganich are struggling to make progress on The Stand.

Box Office Oct 14 Argo The Stand: Ben Affleck on the Difficulties of Adapting Stephen Kings Book

Ben Affleck in ‘Argo’

Reports emerged last month that Affleck is considering an adaptation of Live By Night, which would be based on the novel by Dennis Lehane (author of Gone Baby Gone). Indeed, it might be best that Affleck divert his attention to other projects for a while, since the process of streamlining The Stand is proving so difficult. That way, he can continue sharpening and improving his skills as a filmmaker, in order to be better prepared to realize King’s story on the big screen (once the script has been properly finished, that is).

Are you interested in a film version of The Stand, with Affleck behind the wheel? Or do you feel the only way to do the novel justice is to extend it out into a full-blown trilogy (one which infuses the story with a blockbuster sensibility that was lacking in the well-known 1994 TV mini-series adaptation)?

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Source: GQ [via Cinema Blend]

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  1. Affleck was the BOMB in phantoms yo!!!!!!

    • HA! :D

  2. Yep, make it a trilogy, it’s the only way.

    We’ve had some successful trilogies before that told one story/saga so why not this one?

    I could even see Johnny Depp as Randall Flag.

    • I could even see it at two movies but I just do not see one movie able to convey the story properly.

      • agreed

      • agreed again. It needs two movies at least. The four night tv mini series really didn’t capture all you needed. The book is just too dense and interwoven.

    • NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! the orginal was just fine.

    • @ Dazz… Oh, yeah…ABSOLUTELY….it HAS to be a trilogy or the story gets messed up..and I LOVE your idea of Johnny Depp as Randall Flagg!! I could instantly imagine him in this role!! Over the years there have been many faces to Johnny Depp, so he’s perfect for Flagg now!! ^5!! :~)

  3. Affleck was the Bomb in phantoms yo!!!!

  4. If you want to make a 3.5 hour long movie, you could do it, would be hard and missing some parts.

  5. For me personally, I’d love to see Affleck tackle something of this size and scope.
    After the success of his 1st 3 films he can pick anything he wants and I’d love to see what he could do with something like The Stand.
    To be honest though I’m still marveling at how he’s changed the course of his career. 6 years ago it seemed the career of Ben Affleck as an actor was doomed. And now look at it. He’s without question one of the better directors working today and I don’t think anyone saw this coming.
    Bravo Mr. Affleck, Bravo!!

  6. You’d have to at least do the film in two movies…..I can see the break coming at the explosion during the Ad Hoc Committee Meeting.

    Flagg would have to be someone really not villainy. Actually, Tom Cruise wouldn’t be bad. Gary Sinise would be good ( and it would be cool because he did Stu Redman in the mini series. Dylan McDermott.

    Stu Redman…Tom Hardy or a big guy who doesn’t talk alot in movies. The movie actually has a ton of interesting casting possibilities.

    But there is NO WAY you could do that book in one movie….the book is a thousand pages long, for one thing.

    • I could TOTALLY see Dyln McDermott. Best pick yet for Flagg in my opinion.

    • Maybe Karl Urban for Stu. I used to think of him just as an action guy…But he totally nailed McCoy on the Star Trek movie and he shows alot of depth. And he’s big like Stu was.

  7. I would like to see Samuel L Jackson as Randall Flagg. I think he could pull off wickedly, inherently evil. As for Stu Redman, Tom Hardy or maybe Matt Damon. Ben Affleck directing this movie would be amazing.

    • I wouldn’t buy Samuel L. He’s just too full of menace. I did think about him, though. The whole thing about Flagg was that he had the look like a laid back smiley dude, and then would be crazy the next second. Also, Samuel L just seems too aware of what’s next, no matter what, I can’t see him as a loose cannon. Cheadle does loose cannon well, but not Flagg. Also, I think Jackson’s too old now.

  8. Ben Affleck isnt the greatest acter around but I think hes an awesome director, his real talent is in making movies, would love to see this made into a film, or films, impossible to do in one outing thats for sure, I can see how this is a tricky one to do, theirs just so much in the book..

  9. The only good story Affleck was in was the one where he and Matt Damon won Oscars. Totally unbelievable, but so, so moving.

  10. THe only way to do this beautiful work justice is too do the trilogy! I would see it, buy it, and promote it.

  11. M-O-O-N spells three movies!

  12. A trilogy would be the bomb! And cast as many original characters as possible.

  13. It would be great to see an adaptation of The Stand. We need a good Stephen King adaptation, Salems Lot was such a scary book but the movie was laughable. I really hope Ben can do justice to The Stand.

  14. It would be great to see an adaptation of The Stand. We need a good Stephen King adaptation, Salems Lot was such a scary book but the movie was laughable. I really hope Ben can do justice.

  15. As an avid fan of every literary endeavour the great Mr. King has put out, I feel it would be akin to sacrilege to not do this as a trilogy. There is certainly enough content in the book to support this, and to do anything less would be to cheapen the book itself. The characters in it are brilliant, and there are oh so many, small but important parts which will no doubt be ultimately neglected and left behind should the adaptation only encompass one film. I think that as three films, they should be named for the parts of the book (ie The Stand Pt. 1 – Captain Tripps, The Stand Pt. 2 – On the Border, and The Stand Pt. 3 – The Stand).

    Done this way, it is much more likely that others who have read the book will feel less disappointed by the adaptation (for even the best book to movie adaptations never live up to our imaginations), and will be more likely to watch the entire trilogy. I feel that done in only one movie, it will horribly destroy the content of the book, thereby infuriating the target audience (fans of Mr. King), and decreasing movie sales.

  16. I think it cannot be a one movie project. It probably can be done in 2 two and a half to three hour movies. But not spaced out between years. More like months. Like a May release for part one and an August release for part 2. I think Back to the Future parts 2 and 3 did that. Then both released as an ultimate collectors set on Blu-Ray DVD.
    It can be done. But not in one movie.

  17. I think it cannot be a one movie project. It probably can be done in 2 two and a half to three hour movies. But not spaced out between years. More like months. Like a May release for part one and an August release for part 2. I think Back to the Future parts 2 and 3 did that. Then both released as an ultimate collectors set on Blu-Ray DVD.

  18. I think it cannot be a one movie project. It probably can be done in 2 two and a half to three hour movies. But not spaced out between years. More like months. Like a May release for part one and an August release for part 2. I think Back to the Future parts 2 and 3 did that. Then both released as a collectors set on Blu-Ray DVD.

  19. Trilogy would be best. But the American LOTR is definitely the Dark Tower Series. I would love to see that on the big screen

  20. I actually liked the TV Mini Series. Had some good actors in it. Gary Sinise and Molly Ringwald just to name a couple. Although, I do believe a Triology (since that seems to be the thing these days) would be in order. It’s also important to remember the audience that they will be writing too.

  21. Make it a trilogy. It’s the only way to do it. What makes any Stephen King book so good is the detail. The way he babbles on, as only King can, without getting on your nerves. He draws you in and wraps you up in the story until you feel like it’s all going on around you and you actually feel like you know these people (characters). You can’t squash up The Stand into one dinky little movie. It has to be a trilogy to do it right. Now that Twilight is over we need something else to get into for the next few years. TRILOGY. ALL THE WAY!

    • Agree with everything Lizette said here!

  22. Oh please make it a trilogy! The Stand is too sweeping to be contained in one 3 hour movie! To me that is a no-brainer!

  23. It all depends on the freedom the studios are going to allow him.

  24. Definitely a trilogy. There are too many key characters with their own stories; that are necessary right through the end. And there is more than enough material to support three separate films, if not more! :)

  25. It was done good enough the first time. He should work on a mini-series for all 6 of the clan of the cave bear series instead.

  26. It was done. It was done perfectly. If there is some way to improve on Ruby Dee, Gary Sinise, Ray Walston, Bill Fagerbakke, and Rob Lowe under the expert direction of Mick Garris, with the scripted guidance of Stephen King (who actually got to hug his creation, Tom Cullen, in this adaptation!)…well, never mind. It’s not going to be improved upon.
    Okay, losing Molly Ringwald, that much would be an improvement, but that’s all!
    Why doesn’t he just remake “Gone With the Wind” or something?

  27. Leave “The Stand” alone. It was already done (maybe not perfectly) and just another remake is what Hollywood doesn’t need. Aren’t there any original ideas, or are remakes what fuels the affluent lifestyles of the rich and greedy.

  28. It was done good enough the first time.
    He should work on a mini-series for all 6 of
    the clan of the cave bear series instead.

  29. It would be a great injustice to Mr. King to adapt this book to screen in anything less than a trilogy. So much of the story comes from all the little background tidbits and histories of the characters. I am afraid losing these would lessen the story. And yes I think Johnny Depp would make a great randall flagg!!