Stephen King’s science fiction novel The Tommyknockers will soon be adapted for the big screen, with Aquaman director James Wan producing, as Universal wins a bidding war for the film's rights.
In the horror genre, the Malaysian-born Wan is undoubtedly one its key figures. At film school during the early 2000s, he formed a friendship with Australian screenwriter Leigh Wannell, and their creative bond ultimately inspired the Saw franchise. Wan directed the original 2004 film (produced for $1.2 million), and its massive box office success ($103.9 million) spawned seven follow-ups, with 2017’s Jigsaw being the most recent installment. This past decade, Wan has directed several high-profile horror films, most notably the first two Insidious productions, along with the first two chapters of The Conjuring franchise. After executive producing several films over the past two years, Wan returns to directing in 2018 with Aquaman.
Per Deadline, The Tommyknockers adaptation Wan is producing landed at Universal Pictures after an auction in which Netflix and Sony were also bidding. Universal Pictures will distribute the film, and the producer of ABC’s 1993 television adaptation, Larry Sanitsky, will join the team. As co-producer, Wan will oversee the film through his production company Atomic Monster, which was founded in 2014. Though Wan is on board as a producer, The Tommyknockers adaptation does not yet have a writer or director.
Atomic Monster has produced Annabelle (2014), The Conjuring 2 (2016), Lights Out (2016) and Annabelle: Creation (2017), all of which greatly surpassed their relatively modest production costs. Later this year, Atomic Monster will release The Nun starring Taissa Farmiga and The Children featuring Linda Cardellini, who previously starred in the Netflix Original series Bloodline. Last March, Wan was first connected to The TommyKnockers adaptation and yesterday’s deal means the project is officially moving forward.
Released in 1987, The Tommyknockers takes place in Maine and examines the effects of a supernatural gas on a community. With this latest news, the momentum continues for King, as four adaptations were released in 2017, including The Dark Tower, Gerald’s Game (Netflix), 1922 (Netflix) and It (which earned over $700 million on a $35 million budget). While casual moviegoers may indeed be familiar with King, it’s important to note that he wrote the source material for movie classics like Brian De Palma’s Carrie (1976), Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980) and John Carpenter’s Christine (1983). Rabid fans of King’s work are known as “Constant Readers,” and Wan’s adaptation of The Tommyknockers will undoubtedly create a new fan base.
Surprisingly, King reportedly isn’t a fan of The Tommyknockers, as he once labeled it an “awful book.” So, we’ll have to see if Wan stays true to the source material, or if he uses creative license to amplify the science fiction narrative featuring a mysterious spacecraft. Given Wan’s horror aesthetic, audiences can expect a few surprises, and plenty of psychological terror, in the backwoods of Maine.