The upcoming film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel Firestarter has found a new director in Fatih Akin. A German-Turkish director, Akin is most well-known in the United States as the writer and director of In the Fade, one of the Best Foreign Language Film nominees at the Oscars earlier this year.
Firestarter is based on Stephen King’s 1980 novel of the same name and follows the story of Andy McGee and his young daughter, Charlie, who is gifted with the power of pyrokiesis and able to create fire with her thoughts. The two are pursued by the government, which hopes to take McGee’s daughter and weaponize Charlie’s abilities. In 1984, the novel was adapted into a film starring Drew Barrymore as young Charlie. Universal Pictures first revealed plans to remake King’s story into yet another film back in 2010, but it has been stuck in development hell ever since. It was only last year that Akiva Goldsman was set to direct the adaptation, but that's no longer the case.
Variety reports that Goldsman has been replaced by Fatih Akin, with Blumhouse Productions and Universal Pictures still producing and distributing the film. While Goldsman was also slated to write the script for Universal’s Firestarter, Scott Teems has now been hired to write the latest draft of the screenplay.
Akin’s filmmaking background is primarily in independent dramas. In addition to In the Fade, he is known for having written and directed films such as Head-On and The Edge of Heaven. Directing Firestarter for Universal will be his first American blockbuster, but that's nothing to be worried about as his resume is actually similar to Andrés Muschietti’s before he took on the IT series. Muschetti had only directed a few smaller-scale films, most notably the 2013 horror film Mama, before his adaptation of Stephen King’s IT last year.
Although he does not have extensive experience with big-budget productions, Akin’s hire as Firstarter’s new director is an exciting move. In the age in which many production companies are looking to hedge their bets and choose “safe” choices for their writers and directors - such as Disney, which recently indicated that it is looking to take a more conventional route with Star Wars directors - Universal’s choice of Akin is a daring one. Giving this Stephen King adaptation to the filmmaker, whose background is in smaller, more intimate productions, reflects the company’s willingness to expand their roster to include more diverse creative voices and continue their development relationship with Blumhouse, whose strategy in smaller productions has done wonders in recent years. If Firestarter succeeds, perhaps it may encourage other production companies to do the same.