Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic horror novel The Stand is widely regarded as one of the prolific author’s most accomplished works. Although many of his stories (especially his recent titles) have been criticized for being unnecessarily bloated and somewhat self-indulgent, most readers feel that The Stand is one sprawling epic that actually deserves every single page King dedicates to it.
So when it was revealed earlier this week that Warner Bros. and CBS Films were planning a new feature film version of The Stand, many were left wondering how a big screen adaptation could possibly do justice to the incredibly dense source material. As it turns out, it’s not just Stephen King fans who are skeptical about this ambitious endeavor – the author himself is similarly apprehensive.
King is a regular contributor to Entertainment Weekly and after the news broke, the magazine reached out to him for his thoughts on the matter. Amusingly, King claims he learned about this project the same way the rest of us did – he read about it on the Internet. That seems to contradict the original report’s assurance that he would be involved with The Stand movie in some capacity. Perhaps they intend to reach out to him at some point but haven’t yet?
Either way, King displays a pretty good sense of humor about the whole thing – but it’s clear he’s not very enthusiastic about the news:
I didn’t know anything about the remake until I read about it on the Internet. You absolutely can’t make it as a two-hour movie. If it was a trilogy of films…maybe. People who’ve seen Kubrick’s The Shining dislike the miniseries I wrote (and my amigo Mick Garris directed) even if they haven’t seen it. That’s always annoyed me. But the wheel of karma turns! This time people will probably say, “The miniseries was lots better.”
I agree that trying to cram The Stand into a single film or even a series of films could prove to me an insurmountable challenge, but to be perfectly honest I think many of us might be looking back on that 1994 miniseries through rose-tinted glasses – King included. I always thought it started out fairly strong, but that the limitations of its budget became increasingly obvious as it progressed (not to mention the filmmakers had the added restriction of what they were allowed to show on network television).
King sees another problem with this proposed film adaptation – finding an actor to play Stu Redman who won’t pale in comparison to Gary Sinise (who portrayed the character in the miniseries):
No one will be able to top Gary Sinise, who played Stu Redman in the original ABC miniseries. He was perfect. When he says “You don’t know nothing” to the soldiers who are putting him under mandatory quarantine, you believe his contempt completely. My runner-up pick would be Jake Gyllenhaal.
He also suggests that Billy Bob Thornton would make a great Trashcan Man (I actually have to agree with that one) and continues to poke fun at Molly Ringwald’s performance in the miniseries. However, it may be a bit premature to discuss casting since King is convinced that it will be a long, long time before this project gains traction – if ever.
While it would be incredible to see The Stand get the adaptation it deserves (like the epic treatment The Dark Tower is at long last receiving), this whole situation actually reminds me more of that big screen version of It that’s still being kicked around.
Not only is It a similarly expansive narrative that they’re having trouble condensing, it also has a sub-par, but somewhat beloved early ’90s miniseries adaptation. While both stories would probably benefit from a more R-rated approach, there doesn’t seem to be an obvious or appropriate way to truncate them.
To be fair, the studios have yet to decide if they’re going to try and cram everything into one film or split it up into several installments. Although I suppose a Lord of the Rings-style trilogy might work for The Stand, I can’t help but wonder if Warner Bros. and CBS are ready to cough up the amount of cash that would be required for something that massive.
The Stand is easily one of my favorite Stephen King novels and I want to believe that this film (or films) is being approached with a certain level of reverence for the source material – and isn’t simply moving forward to capitalize on all of the attention The Dark Tower has been getting. We’ll keep you updated on how this progresses.