The forthcoming film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel The Long Walk has found its director. Published in 1979 under his pseudonym Richard Bachman, King’s book is set in a dystopian future America under totalitarian rule where 100 teenage boys compete in an annual walking contest - the titular long walk. During the contest, they must maintain a walking speed of four miles per hour. Failure to do so results in a warning, and receiving three warnings in an hour gets you shot dead. It’s grim, brutal and a quintessentially Stephen King story.
New Line first confirmed they were developing an adaptation of The Long Walk over a year ago, with a script by screenwriter James Vanderbilt (The Amazing Spider-Man movies, Independence Day: Resurgence), who would co-produce alongside Bradley Fischer and William Sherak. The studio’s adaptation of King’s IT in 2017 was a massive success, with the film outranking The Exorcist as the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie of all time. Another Stephen King adaptation makes perfect sense.
It’s been a while since New Line updated horror fans on the status of The Long Walk, but Deadline has now confirmed that the studio has hired Norwegian filmmaker André Øvredal to direct. Øvredal has a strong background in the horror genre having directed Trollhunter and The Autopsy of Jane Doe. He’s also helming the soon-to-be released horror Scary Stories to Tell In the Dark, co-written and co-produced by Oscar-winning director Guillermo del Toro.
New Line’s adaptation of The Long Walk is just one of three Stephen King adaptations the studio currently has in the works. Later this year the studio will release IT: Chapter Two - the long-awaited sequel to IT - which King has already seen and given his seal of approval. They also recently greenlit an adaptation of King’s classic vampire tale Salem’s Lot with James Wan producing and IT screenwriter Gary Dauberman penning the script.
King adaptations are all the rage in Hollywood at the moment. Just within the past couple of years The Dark Tower, Gerald’s Game and Pet Sematary have all gotten the feature treatment - Pet Sematary for the second time. The film industry’s love affair with the horror writer shows no sign of stopping either. Alongside New Line’s three movies, there will also be adaptations of Doctor Sleep and In the Tall Grass (a novella King penned with his writer son Joe Hill) released later this year. Adaptations of The Tommyknockers, The Stand and Lisey’s Story are also in the works.
Any film fan who’s seen a few movies based on King’s works can attest that while some of them are amazing, other King adaptations aren't so great. However, with New Line’s experience adapting both IT movies and director André Øvredal’s horror background, The Long Walk might just turn out to be one of the better adaptations.