Hollywood's reignited love affair with Stephen King continues, as New Line prepares to adapt Salem's Lot for theaters, with James Wan producing. While King has regularly seen his projects get selected for adaptation on both the big and small screens throughout his long writing career, the last few years have seen a huge resurgence in the amount of King-based movies and TV shows in the works. The biggest hit so far has been 2017's IT, which did nothing but prove that putting all these King things in development wasn't a mistake.
More recently, Paramount adapted Pet Sematary for the big screen, after the novel had been first adapted to film in 1989. The new Pet Sematary drew mixed reviews from critics, but was a good investment financially, now nearing the $100 million mark worldwide on a budget of $21 million. It's by no means an IT-sized success, but few films are, and movies based on King have always been hit or miss.
Now, THR reports that Warner Bros. and its sub-studio New Line - the makers of IT - have greenlit a new movie adaptation of King's vampire novel Salem's Lot. The story centers on writer Ben Mears, who returns to the seemingly quiet little town of Jerusalem's Lot after having suffered a traumatic experience as a child. Unfortunately, powerful undead bloodsucker Kurt Barlow soon shows up to make the town his. Modern horror master James Wan will produce, from a script by New Line's go-to horror scribe Gary Dauberman, writer of IT and its sequel, as well as several Conjuring universe entries.
This will be Salem's Lot first trip to the big screen, but it's twice before been adapted for TV as a miniseries. The first and by far more famous of the two came in 1979, directed by Texas Chainsaw Massacre helmer Tobe Hooper, and starring Starsky and Hutch's David Soul as Ben Mears. This version changed King's quite verbose Barlow into a Nosferatu-esque snarling beast. TNT's 2004 adaptation starred Rob Lowe as Ben and cast Rutger Hauer as a more book-accurate Barlow, but has mostly faded into obscurity.
The new Salem's Lot movie is in the early stages, so it's unclear how closely those involved plan to stick to King's text. Director Andy Muschietti's IT deviated in large ways from the book, and proved successful, so audiences will certainly accept changes if they work well. Also unclear is who will direct the project, although Wan would seem like an obvious choice. If he's unavailable, perhaps Dauberman himself could. His directorial debut, Annabelle Comes Home, hits theaters this summer.