Chances are that you have no idea who Josh Boone is (unless you were one of the ten people who saw 2013’s Stuck in Love), but that’s about to change; the filmmaker’s young adult novel adaptation, The Fault In Our Stars, makes its way to theaters this weekend, and early buzz for the teenage cancer patient romance is quite positive – as are the film’s box office prospects. Boone’s already ahead of the curve, when it comes to following up what looks to become his breakout film; for the past three months now, he’s essentially been onboard to direct a big screen adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand.
King’s best-selling tome, for those unfamiliar, follows the collapse of human civilization (due to a human-made virus) into the aftermath, where the survivors wage a battle for the future and soul of humankind; to quote Ben Affleck, who was once slated to direct the Stand movie adaptation, “It’s like ‘The Lord of the Rings’ in America.” Indeed, one of the earlier planned iterations of the project – with Harry Potter writer/director team Steve Kloves and David Yates lined up to handle King’s sci-fi/horror/fantasy saga – was going to be a “multi-movie version” of the source material (which is dived up into three, shorter novel-esque segments).
However, by the time that word of Boone’s involvement got out, Warner Bros.’ vision for the Stand film has evolved into “a single, R-Ratd movie that will be faithful to the book.” Boone, during an interview with Vulture where the bulk of the discussion was focused on the making of The Fault In Our Stars, confirmed that this is, in fact, the blueprint he’s using on his King movie:
“We’re gonna do one three-hour, R-rated version with an amazing A-list cast across the board. Every single one of those characters will be somebody you recognize and somebody you relate to. And it’s gonna be awesome. I’m really excited. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever got to do in my entire life. If 12-year-old me had ever known that one day I’d be doing this, to even just go back and look at that kid, I’d be like, Keep doing what you’re doing! It’s just crazy. I’ve met so many actors over the years, and like, when I met Stephen King, I hugged him with tears in my eyes. He meant that much to me when I was young. I still say everything I learned about writing I learned from Stephen King. I don’t read screenplays. I don’t read screenplay how-to books. It’s always just, establish the character. Establish the character.”
As funny as it sounds, a 3-hour film adaptation of The Stand isn’t unusually massive, for a dense King novel adaptation. The 1994 Stand TV mini-series was six hours long, while The Green Mile and It were previously turned into, respectively, a three-hour movie and television min-series – and now, the latter is being turned into a two-movie project, courtesy of director Cary Fukunaga (True Detective season one). Indeed, many people who’ve read King’s Stand book have voiced their interest in seeing it brought to life as a big-budget film trilogy, where each installment has something of a different flavor, genre-wise.
Thing is, though, having more screen time to explore a story isn’t always for the best, especially when it comes to film – a useful medium for economic storytelling. If there’s a key to the adaptation process, when it comes to transforming a book into a movie, it might be cutting down the story to its bare-bones, then determining what other details are essential – and which should be jettisoned during the jump from page to screen. If you cut too much, you may end up with Ender’s Game – a decent, but flawed, adaptation that would’ve benefitted from slowing down – but if you attempt to carry too much over, then the final result can be too sluggishly-paced and flabby (see: the Breaking Dawn films).
Point being: although there’s no guarantee that Boone’s The Stand adaptation won’t ultimately end up feeling like too much stuff crammed into an unaccommodating small space (the opposite problem of The Hobbit), a single three-hour movie could also end up packing a stronger punch than a long-winded, multi-film rendition.
It also should be acknowledged that planning The Stand as a trilogy carries its fair shares of risks for Warner Bros., financially; heck, Jurassic World and Terminator: Genesis are both new installments in long-running franchises, but there’s no guarantee that either will do well enough to justify a new trilogy, as planned. So, at the end of the day, it’s understandable that a trilogy for The Stand isn’t the route the studio would prefer to take – and if the film does under-perform at the box office, then at least moviegoers who see it will still feel as though they got a complete, self-contained experience – more satisfying than a first chapter in a canceled trilogy would be, anyway.
The downside for fans of King’s source material, of course, is that it may be inevitable that some of their favorite characters/events in the original Stand novel wind up either being dropped from Boone’s film – or having their role in the over-arching narrative significantly downplayed. Boone will be writing the screenplay, in addition to directing, so it’s really on his head to (as he puts it) “establish the character” as effectively as possible, when it comes to the overall design of the movie’s story. Best of luck to him in that endeavor, naturally.
We’ll keep you updated on development for The Stand.