Stephen King’s story Firestarter is headed back to the back screen. When it comes to famous authors who have had their work adapted the most times by Hollywood, horror master Stephen King is no doubt at – or at least near – the top of that list. Dozens and dozens of films, TV shows, and miniseries have been produced based on King’s writing, including such all-time pop cultural classics as The Shining, IT, and Carrie. While not quite on that rarefied level, another King-based film with a sizeable fanbase is 1984’s Firestarter, an adaptation of King’s 1980 novel of the same name.
Directed by Mark L. Lester (Commando), Firestarter starred then-child actor Drew Barrymore, just a few years removed from her star-making turn in Steven Spielberg’s E.T. Barrymore played the titular character, one Charlene “Charlie” McGee, a little girl in possession of amazing but extremely destructive pyrokinetic powers. Charlie and her father Andy (David Keith) spend the majority of the film on the run from The Shop, an evil government agency whose experiments on Charlie’s parents resulted in her powers. Leading the charge to find her is the sinister John Rainbird (George C. Scott), who previously befriended Charlie while in disguise.
Firestarter was far from a big hit in theaters, barely making back its $15 million budget. Thankfully, the film has gone on to amass a large following in the years since, thanks to home video and cable. In a not too surprising move, Deadline reports that Universal Pictures and Blumhouse Productions have opted to make Firestarter the latest classic King project to receive the remake treatment. Directing the remake will be Oscar-winning screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, helming only his third feature.
Goldsman is a man with a bit of an odd career trajectory, often functioning as a favorite Hollywood hired gun, and writing within multiple genres of film. Goldsman won his Oscar for writing 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, but also has on his resume such stinkers as Batman & Robin and the recent Rings. Still, he’s also written warmly received films like I Am Legend, and A Time to Kill, so he clearly isn’t a one-hit wonder. This won’t be his first exposure to King material either, as he recently wrote the script for The Dark Tower movie. Surprisingly enough, Goldsman won’t be writing Firestarter, with that job going to Scott Teems (Rectify).
Interestingly enough, this actually won’t be the first time that the Firestarter franchise has returned, although many people are likely unaware of that fact. In 2002, Syfy presented a made-for-TV sequel entitled Firestarter: Rekindled, which focused on an adult Charlie’s struggle to control her powers and escape from the somehow still-alive Rainbird. Barrymore didn’t come back, and the whole thing is probably best left forgotten. For the sake of King’s army of fans, here’s hoping Universal and Blumhouse’s shot at resurrecting Firestarter produces hotter results.
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