The King Of Cinema

All right, bare with me, I don’t know much about the inner workings of the film industry, or have an enormous brain filled with moviemaking experience like the people who usually write here. But I do know Stephen King. Seriously, I do. Not the man, but his books. I know there are more movies than what I have here being developed, but these are the only ones I cared enough about to research and think about.

First up is “Desperation.” Mick Garris will direct. He also directed “The Stand” and “The Shining” (TV miniseries), two of my favorite King movies. New Line Cinemas will distribute it, and was supposed to go before cameras back in May 1997. It was put in turnaround, since New Line head Michael DeLuca “…thought it was a great draft, but it budgeted out a little too expensive for what my bosses are willing to spend on straight horror. I love horror films so it was fine by me but sometimes I get overruled.” Creature Corner got to review the screenplay back in January 2001, written by King back in 1997. In this, as well as most of the other King books, we have a lead who is a young child. In this case, it is Daniel, a boy of about 10-11 who has a special pact with God, apparently. The other main lead is an aging author, Johnny (who, btw, reminded me a lot of Filmjerk), who takes the role of the leader of a small group of people trying to escape this death trap of a town. There are a lot of neat scenes that would play well on screen, such as when the group is being followed/surrounded by coyotes, and a scene where an entire office is found slaughtered, most hanging on meat hooks.

Some things that they will have to overcome in making this are the lengthy descriptions and histories of Tak and the China Pit. But then when they do, it might be a bit confusing. I honestly don’t think they can, and this movie will end up being a pile of monkey crap. This is definitely not one of King’s best, and whatever ounce of goodness was in the book will be lost on film.

Next up is “The Eyes of the Dragon.” An animated feature, and WAMC Entertainment has optioned to produce it, with a budget of $45 million. Back in October of 2000, it was stated that the film would be finished by early 2001. There is more info here (site closed). This was a very exciting adventure story, filled with love, betrayal, good and evil. It centered on an evil magician who murders his king, and frames the king’s oldest son and heir to the throne. The young man is thrown into jail, and the king’s younger, less competent son is crowned king. The magician uses the young boy to get what he wants, and the boy goes along with it. I think if toned down a little, it could make a great kids movie. There were only a few parts that I can remember that might have been objectionable. I mean, it’s got the wicked villain, the unfortunately imprisoned hero, and some other great characters. I’m looking forward to this quite a bit. It’ll be like “Sword in the Stone” but a lot more action and fun.

Which brings us to “Hearts in Atlantis,” a group of 5 short stories, dealing with the Vietnam time and the aftermath of the war. The movie is based on the first and last stories, titled “Low Men in Yellow Coats” and “Heavenly Shades of Night are Falling” and is directed by Scott Hicks. The story is about a young fatherless boy Bobby, who gets picked on by bullies, and scolded constantly by his mother. This all seems to end when Ted Brautigan moves in to his apartment building. Ted becomes a father figure to Bobby, and entrusts him with a deadly secret: that he is being tracked and hunted by low men in yellow coats. He hires Bobby to keep an eye out for strange signs that indicate that the men are coming. My first thought, when seeing the cast for this was “Wow!” Anthony Hopkins as Ted, and a great supporting cast. And for a movie opening in less than 2 months, it certainly snuck up on me. It will be premiering at the 26th Toronto Film Festival September 28th, 2001. I love when King strays from the horror genre; it always produces great books, and even greater movies. This will be right up there with “Stand By Me,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” and “The Green Mile.”

Film rights for “Bag of Bones” have been optioned by Bruce Willis and Arnold Rifkin, with MGM set to distribute the final product. I almost cried when I heard that last bit of information. This is one of my favorite of King’s, and the most beautiful, most touching, and most sad. The one I was most looking forward to becoming a movie. And now, Bruce Willis is producing it. Just having his name attached to it gives me a bad chill. I really couldn’t find anything else on this, which scares me even more. I think this could easily be the best film of any year, if adapted decently. The story has twists and turns, love, ghosts, and the most adorable little girl you will ever meet. This movie is going to need the cutest, most eloquent 5-year-old they can find to play Kyra Devore. The leads are also great characters with a lot of depth: Mike Noonan, a depressed writer who can’t get over the death of his wife; and Mattie Devore, the widow teenage mom of Kyra, who has to fight her father-in-law from getting custody of her child. This movie would be a haunted love story, one that gets creepier and scarier as Mike unearths more of his past, and discovers the reason for his wife’s death. The special effects could be extremely minimal; solely in the ending of the film they would take place, in the face-off between Mike and the ghost. I believe they’ll make Mattie a bit older though, since she and Mike end up falling in love, and it will look a bit wrong to see a 40+ man going after this young mom of 17 or 18. I suspect they will probably end up cutting the first half of the book, which consists mostly of Mike moping around with writers block, crying all the time. I suppose it will start when he moves to his house by the lake in a small Yankee town.

And I saved the best for last. “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon.” All I could find on it is that it is currently in production. George Romero will direct and is writing the screenplay. This also features a young child as the star. But unlike “Desperation” or “Bag of Bones,” the young girl in this movie will have to carry the entire movie. Much like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away,” the young actress who will play the role of Trisha will be by herself for over 90% of this movie. And they better not cast that stupid Pepsi girl to do this. This story is about a young girl who gets lost in the woods when she separates from her family for a brief moment to pee. When she tries to find her way back to the path, she discovers she has gotten herself even more lost. Several days go by, and she struggles to survive the starvation, loneliness, and the wildlife. The only thing that helps her get through is listening to her little radio broadcasting the baseball games of her favorite player, Tom Gordon. One thing that will have to be done carefully is when Trisha slowly loses all sense of what is real and what is not. As she descends more and more into near death, she hallucinates, and imagines things that are not even there. But like I said, none of this will even matter if they cast someone who can’t carry it.