The scariest news regarding Stephen King right now isn't about the upcoming adaptation of his novel IT, but the fact that filmmakers are going to have a harder time getting the rights to some of his original works. The licensing rights to a number of his novels and short stories are under the control of various studios, but King has put into motion a legal process that would put those rights back into his hands.
The licensing rights in question include Cat's Eye, Children of the Corn, Creepshow, Cujo, The Dead Zone, and Firestarter (an adaptation of which is currently in the works through Universal). Any projects that were assembled prior to King's termination will still get the go-ahead, but no other future adaptations will be permissible without King's consent.
As reported by Bloody Disgusting, official termination notices were already sent, but will not be in effect until September 1, 2018. King is able to reclaim the licensing rights thanks to a bill from 1998 called The Sonny Bono Copyright Extension Act. According to the act, if an author so chooses to terminate transfers of copyrighted work (though only work that was printed after 1978), they could do so after a 35-year period. In King's case, the aforementioned titles are eligible for termination.
All of that said, however, the process can be a bit finicky. A termination notice must be sent two years prior to the date in which the termination will take effect. And if the termination isn't put into effect within five years of that 35 year period, it's void and null. Or in a more King-friendly way of putting it, it's dead.
While this is obviously good news for King himself, devoted fans of the author are likely breathing a sigh of relief. Over the years, quite a bit of his work has undergone the curse of "sequelitis," in most cases becoming unrecognizable compared to the original source material. Which would explain why King is finally putting his foot down. For example, his short story, Children of the Corn, from his 1978 collection Night Shift has spawned nine sequels, eight of which were direct-to-video, and none of which received a single fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
As it turns out, this isn't the only legal drama surrounding the Children of the Corn franchise, as producer Donald Borcher has filed a federal copyright suit against the Weinstein Company, claiming that he alone owns sequel rights to the series. Considering that King has stepped in to reclaim the rights himself, it remains to be seen whether or not Borcher's suit will even hold up.
In the meantime, there are plenty of King adaptations in the works, including director Andy Muschietti's IT, the mysterious J.J. Abrams Hulu series Castle Rock, and Mike Flanagan's Gerald's Game, which ought to whet the appetite of King fans everywhere. By all accounts, whether you agree with the author's decision to take legal action or not, King is certainly making a stand. (And in fact, you might even say he's making the stand.)
Source: Bloody Disgusting
- IT (2017) release date: Sep 08, 2017
- Gerald's Game (2017) release date: Sep 29, 2017