Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key comic book series was adapted into the pilot for a TV show last year, as produced by former Fringe co-showrunners Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It managed to generate a fair amount of advance buzz, but that wasn’t enough to prevent Fox, Syfy, and MTV from passing on it. Moreover, the show’s thunder was stolen by another television series based around the haunted house scenario (ie. the first season of American Horror Story).
However, Universal has now picked up the rights to a film based on the Locke & Key graphic novels, with Kurtzman and Orci onboard to both write and produce. If everything goes to plan, it will become the first in a trilogy of movies adapted from Hill and Rodriguez’ critically-acclaimed tale of supernatural mayhem and suspense.
Orci confirmed the news last night via his Twitter account, but the original scoop was provided by Latino Review. Kurtzman and Orci remain as hot-in-demand as ever, thanks to their ongoing television contributions (which include Hawaii 5-0) and screenwriting on the Star Trek reboot, as well as the first two Transformers movies… well, the first one, that is. The two do not have a perfect track record, as far as their ability to churn out either quality and/or lucrative projects go (see: The Island, Cowboys & Aliens, People Like Us); nonetheless, they have become quite the powerhouse writer/producer duo in recent years.
For those not familiar with the comics: Locke & Key tells the tale of the Locke family – who, in keeping with the conventions of the haunted house sub-genre, are attempting to rebuild their shattered lives following the murder of the father (who was killed by a psychotic high schooler). Thus, the Locke clan moves away to their uncle’s mysterious New England mansion on an island called (no joke) Lovecraft; there, they discover the building is filled with magical doors that transform anyone who walks through them. Of course, it turns out there’s something much nastier and more dangerous than that lurking within the depths of a well on the property…
The basic premise for Locke & Key does manage to stand out amidst the sea of variations on the haunted house setup in recent years, both in film (Paranormal Activity, Insidious) and television (American Horror Story). Nonetheless, with the benefit of hindsight, it becomes easier to understand why several networks chose to pass on Kurtzman and Orci’s television series, given the budgetary demands necessary to recreate Rodriguez’ captivating comic book artwork – not to mention, AHS occupying the same niche (at the time). Moreover, the film medium sounds like a better fit for the property.
Universal may be getting ahead of itself with plans for a Locke & Key trilogy; though, since it’s drawing inspiration from previously-published material, sequels can be put into turnaround much faster than recent planned-trilogy starters (see: Snow White and the Huntsman). On the other hand, those plans depend on the first installment playing out well enough with general audiences to warrant a followup or two – and there’s certainly a precedent for comic book adaptations that neglect basic storytelling in favor of setting up a franchise (Green Lantern, looking at you…).
Kurtzman and Orci are involved with numerous other projects right now (including, the Van Helsing reboot), so it’s not clear how soon we can expect them to finish scripting Locke & Key. As always, we will keep you posted as more information comes our way.