While many of the greatest movies of all time were based on books, perhaps no single author has found their work more intricately intertwined with both the big and small screens than horror master Stephen King. The man’s prose has been adapted into dozens of feature films, and nearly as many TV series or miniseries. The phenomena started early too, with Brian De Palma’s celebrated adaptation of King’s first novel – 1974’s Carrie – making it to theaters by 1976. The latest in this long line of King stories to be translated by Hollywood is Hearts in Atlantis, a novella from the author’s 1999 collection of the same name.
Of course, the news of Hearts in Atlantis getting a movie adaptation is likely to provoke quite a few questioning head scratches from audiences only casually familiar with King’s oeuvre, as a King-based film with that name already exists. Released in 2001, that Hearts in Atlantis starred Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins and a very young Anton Yelchin. However, despite its title, Hearts in Atlantis (2001) – rather confusingly – drew its inspiration from two other stories in the collection, namely Low Men in Yellow Coats and Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling. Thus the actual Hearts in Atlantis novella itself has never before been adapted for the screen.
According to Variety, this new Hearts in Atlantis film – titled simply Hearts – will be directed by Johannes Roberts and written by Ernest Riera. The duo are frequent collaborators, having recently worked on the supernatural horror film The Other Side of The Door – starring The Walking Dead‘s Sarah Wayne Callies – and Mandy Moore-fronted shark flick 47 Meters Down. Hearts in Atlantis is Roberts’ personal favorite King story, making the film a true passion project for him. For his part, King himself has already reportedly given the project his endorsement.
Despite King’s well-earned reputation as a master of the macabre, Hearts in Atlantis is one of his non-horror efforts, and is instead a straight drama set on a college campus in 1966. The plot concerns a group of financially struggling freshmen who find themselves becoming obsessed with the highly addictive card game Hearts, and see their academic fortunes begin to fail as a result. With the Vietnam War still raging at the time, the students are truly playing a dangerous game, as flunking out of school would see them no longer be shielded from the draft.
While film and TV adaptations of King’s material have never completely stopped being made, recent years have seen a noticeable uptick in demand for the author’s work. Theatrical remakes of both IT and The Stand are presently in the production pipeline, as is the long-awaited movie adaptation of The Dark Tower. On TV, Hulu recently adapted 11/22/63 into a limited series, Haven and Under the Dome both came to an end after multiple season runs, and Spike TV is preparing to head into The Mist. Considering the legendarily fast pace at which King writes, it seems logical that one shouldn’t expect there to be a lack of candidates for further adaptations anytime soon.
Hearts is in development, and has no current release date.