‘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. Yes.

  2. Let’s get Ben to make The Talisman.

    • Hell Yeah!!!

  3. So agree w/ the Trilogy..altho do I hate! to wait for the next one!
    Flagg..totally Mathew McConnahy.. I did think the TV series was the better of the 2..

  4. Yes. I believe Affleck is a great director. Him sitting behind the wheels of the Stand, I would have full confidence.

  5. Love the book in its full length so make it a trilogy so that the whole idea behind the story. Even the section with the back round on the main characters. And think Ben would do an awesome job with it.

  6. A single full length movie is a challenge and I welcome the idea. The goal is to not reproduce Kings original novel but to take the novel as a basis for a ploy and go from there. Lets see how creative hollywood can be!

  7. I think 1 movie would be fine. You could dedicate 3 hours, 1 hour for each section. Honestly, a trilogy on screen would be torture because it would be so drawn out. Does anyone really want to watch a full-length movie on the collapse and everyone wandering around meeting up with each other? The mini series dragged on enough. The book is awesome, but there is so much that just doesn’t translate to film very well because its all internal stuff.

  8. Whoopie for Mother..
    Christopher Lloyd( “Jim” from Taxi,) for Trashman…

  9. why mess with something that was already good the tv mini series was perfect just leave it alone now. no reason to re do it again considering the tv mini series was written by stephen king him self. so just leave it alone now.

  10. I wouldn’t care how many movies it would have to be as long as they don’t change or combine any of the characters ! The book is awesome the story compelling and the finale worthy of true Hollywood magic! Go for it!

  11. No way can The Stand be condensed into one film, only a trilogy would come close to doing it justice, I think I’ll skip this one if it is squeezed into one film.

  12. I would look forward to it. Affleck seems to have the right skills and attitude. And it shouldn’t be that technically difficult.

    One thing: there was a TV mini-series on it, right?

    • Yes there was a Mini Series. It is 4 parts and on tv Ran a total of 8 hours (2 hours per episode) it is availible on DVD/Bluray in full (unlike the Tommyknockers Mini Series which was edited down to about 90 mins for it’s first home video release since it has gotten the full release) without commercials it runs about 6.5 hours.

      It stared Gary Sinese as Stu Redman, Molly Ringwald as Fran, Corin Nemec as Harold, Jamey Sheriden as Flagg, Ruby Dee as Mother Abigal, Rob Lowe as Nick, as well as a number of celeberty camieos such as Kathy Bates, Sam Raimi, John Landis, Ed Harris and King himself.

      The Screenplay was written by Stephen King and Directed by Mick Garris

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Stand_%28TV_miniseries%29

      I have no Idea why they are going to do a movie they will have to split it into at least 3 parts (Yes I do know why $$$ more parts = more ticket sales cause once you see part one you have to see part 2 since they are the same story like HP:Deathly Hallows, Breaking Dawn, The Hobbitt and the new Rssident Evil all one story divided into several parts.) They are thinking of making IT into a movie and splitting it into several parts though I’d love to see how hollywood deals with some of the issues in that one: SPOILER WARNING:

      Bev and the Losers getting lost in the tunnels under Derry in 1957 and how they get out and re-bind the group together (those who read the Novel will know what I am talking about….)

      End Spoiler!!!

      Just go out and find a copy of the Mini Series you’ll probally find it in the value bin or the $5-$10 bin at your local walmart in fact here’s link to amazon.com for a triple feature: Langoliers, The Stand and Golden Years (OK So Golden Years SUCKED and Langoliers has the Worst CGI creatures imaginable but they are good for a laugh at how bad based on Kings Work can be) http://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Langoliers-Stand-Golden-Years/dp/B000RZIGUE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353220042&sr=8-1&keywords=the+stand+dvd

      or just The Stand:
      http://www.amazon.com/Stephen-Kings-Stand-Gary-Sinise/dp/B003O434GG/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1353220042&sr=8-2&keywords=the+stand+dvd
      The Single 2 sided disc from Artisan Entertainment is 8 bucks.

  13. I would love to see a quality remake of this book. The Stand is an epic; in
    my opinion, it is King’s best work. It would probably work best as a trilogy because there is certainly enough material in each section to warrant a feature length film and if wee done, could be a top grosser.

  14. I would live to see this done really well–as a trilogy!!!!

  15. I would live to see this done really well–as a trilogy!

  16. A trilogy would be awesome….would be able to do King’s masterpiece, The Stand”, justice!

  17. Colin Morgan as Nick, perhaps? I always pictured Nick as looking like him.

  18. If anyone thinks they can make a single film out of the stand they have clearly overestimated themselves. To think that this epic tale could be told in one film is sadly mistaken and obviously suffering from delusions of grandiosity. All these attempts will result in is ridiculos amonts of money being wasted on what will turn out to be nothing more than a giant turd

  19. This is my favorite book of all time. I read it countless times and wrote papers on it in high school and in college. Don’t screw it up Ben. If you’re having such a hard time, leave it for someone else to do.

  20. The thing that the series couldn’t do, and I doubt a three part movie could do any better is convey that feeling of the end of the world. When I read the book I could really internalize it because of the minute discriptions of what the survivor was seeing every where he went. As others have stated….One go around was about as good as you’re going to get unless you actually read the book…..Then again I have seen “The Road” and that was dark as hell. Talk about really feeling total dispair for the survivors…..So maybe they could…

  21. The Stand is already one heck of a great movie. Yes, it’s six hours long but it is the book to a tee. I think the only way to really give this book the great movie it deserves to be…it would have to be a trilogy. There is no way one could condense that story into 90 minutes and still have a story that is “The Stand”.

    One Super Fan’s Opinion

  22. The Stand is my favorite King book. I didnt care for the tv movie. Molly Ringwold was not a good choice nor was Rob Lowe as Nick. I think a trilogy is in order. How about someone doing The Talisman and Black House as three movies.

  23. Why not making three movies? Would that be a problem. The Stand is one of King’s masterpieces and it is telling history of Earth. It is not telling especially about the human world, but of the sleeping of the angels.
    Humans are made as an empty form, without souls, like the angels are.
    Therefore long times at Earth there has been a problem to solve these perfect robots. And long times of all different kinds of wars did happen at Earth. Without really solving the problem of these perfect robots, humans, without shining souls. Some of them did win a soul, but most of them stayed deadly and empty. Reason why at the moment there are developing so many senseless conflicts at Earth. Because at last humans will be conquered forever and the problem will be solved.
    Therefore at the moment we are living, true life, the times of the awakening of the angels and of love. The basic fundament in true honest and honorable life. I am of the opinion that the Stand is worthwhile to be a movie trilogy, showing what hard fights have been necessary for shining life to survive. But that love always has been the base, why it did survive and will survive for ever.

  24. I read the book. No way it can be one movie.

  25. my favourite king book of all time(and ive read them all)one movie wont cut it-too much material.three parts=three movies.think the most important aspect apart from the script will be the casting process.for example,who would play stu.would have to have a major presence.couple of casting suggestions ben (if you are still interseted in doing it that is:
    Stu-daniel craig/matt damon
    Nick-giovanni ribisi
    Larry-kevin costner
    Mother Abigail-alfre woodard
    Randall Flagg-jack nicholson/robert de niro
    Frannie-gwyneth paltrow/emma stone
    Loyd-steven lang
    like i said-just suggestions,but if you do decide to do it,do it justice,because i personally think its a classic

  26. …so if the book is broken down into three sections, why are they trying to mash it all into one? LOTR was amazing because Peter Jackson took the time to capture the books and film all 3 in one shot. It can’t be THAT hard to put this book into screenplays by section and film them all at once. They’ve been trying to put The Stand into motion picture for like….30 years now! We have the technology to do it and, considering a well known actors’ bank account, cinema seems to be the only thing that still rakes in the dough in our country.

  27. Good Lord, why would they try to fit that huge novel into one movie? Even if they did it half way decently the movie would have to be at least 6 hours long. Pace yourself, Affleck and make it a trilogy.

  28. I would LOVE a full-blown, high-end trilogy of The Stand.

    Plllleeeeaaassseeee…if you’re going to do it, do it right. There’s no way you can cram that much story into a two or three hour movie, and have Stand Fans, such as myself, be anything but disappointed.

    Also…I’m a huge Ben Affleck fan. :)

  29. Like many of the previous commentors, I too have read, enjoyed, and cherished pretty much everything that Stephen King has ever written (and most of his stories multiple times). My personal opinion is I feel that ‘The Stand’ is way, WAY too intricate a story/plotline to ever be (successfully) reduced to something that would ‘fit’ the standard Hollywood formulaic approach to film-making.

    We all realize that Hollywood is (first and foremost) blinded by the ‘bottom-line’, and their track record with successfully translating Mr. King’s tales into money-making ventures is sketchy at best. So to intrust his magnum opus to somewhat lesser writers (no offense intended to Mr. Affleck) is a reckless undertaking. Rather than producing a high quality, faithfully represented, version of this epic tale, it’s more likely we’d be treated to a bastardized, less-than-adequate ‘compressed’ product that can easily be rushed into the stores in time for the holidays.