The original 1978 version of Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic novel The Stand was some 823 pages long; the author would eventually go on to release a “updated writer’s cut” of the book that added over 300 pages to the story. It’s a best-selling, award-winning dark fantasy tale, chockfull of subplots and a diverse collection of characters.
So who better to handle the film adaptation than the director of the last four Harry Potter films (David Yates) and screenwriter Steve Kloves, who penned all but the fifth boy wizard movie?
Around the time the final Harry Potter flick hit theaters, word got out that Warner Bros. was eying Yates as a potential to direct one of several high-profile projects in development, including The Stand. There was no mention of Kloves coming onboard at the time, but the move makes sense given the screenwriter’s working relationship with the studio (in addition to the Harry Potter films, Kloves also reworked the script for Warner Bros.’ live-action Akira project).
According to HitFix, studio heads are currently finalizing deals for both Yates and Kloves to handle a “multi-movie version” of King’s horror/fantasy saga. Vertigo Pictures will produce the project, which is expected to be fast-tracked for development.
King previously expressed his skepticism about the idea of The Stand working as a feature film, but the indication is that Warner Bros. hopes to cover the story over the course of at least two, hopefully three, separate movies. A trilogy seems likes the most obvious fit, seeing how King’s original novel is even divided up into three sections or “shorter books.”
The first portion of The Stand chronicles the emergence of a human-devised superflu virus referred to as either “Project Blue” or “Captain Trips” and the subsequent breakdown of human society worldwide – something that occurs largely off-screen in most post-apocalyptic thrillers (see: 28 Days Later, I Am Legend, etc). The second section of the novel follows various groups of human survivors as they rally around two different figures, in the form of the kindly Abagail Freemantle and a wicked supernatural being called Randall Flaggs. Naturally, in the third section of The Stand, the two camps clash in the “ultimate” battle of good vs. evil.
With Universal having recently canceled its ambitious adaptation of King’s Dark Tower, there is good reason to wonder if Warner Bros. is really prepared to commit to a three-movie take on The Stand. However, the latter isn’t nearly as major an undertaking as the Dark Tower project, which was attempting to tie in both multiple film and TV adaptations of King’s source material.
While the critically-acclaimed 1994 TV mini-series adaptation of The Stand is considered a pretty loyal retelling of King’s story, most fans would probably agree that it doesn’t do justice to the gruesome and gloomy atomsphere of the source material – in the way that a cinematic adaptation could, that is.
Yates and Kloves arguably did a very good job of not only capturing the increasingly dark and adult tone of the later Harry Potter books with their film adaptations, but also heightening the action quotient (especially in Deathly Hallows: Part II) while still keeping the movies very character-oriented. If they can repeat that act with The Stand, there’s good reason to have high hopes for this King project.
As always, we’ll keep you posted on the status of The Stand.