Stephen King movies that were never made

The talisman

There is perhaps no King title that has been trapped in development hell longer than its 1984 fantasy epic, The talisman, co-written with his good friend and fellow esteemed horror author, the late Peter Straub. Steven Spielberg’s company Amblin Entertainment bought the rights to the book decades ago – essentially holding them forever – with Spielberg planning to direct the film. Since then, it has gone through many iterations, including a feature film, a six-hour TNT miniseries, a feature againand currently a Netflix limited series executive produced by the Duffer Brothers of stranger things celebrity.

The fact is that Spielberg long ago abandoned his plans to make The talisman, while we hope it finally makes it to the screen, we have to wonder what a Spielberg-directed movie of a Stephen King novel would have looked like. The story certainly hits on all of The Beard’s strengths – a young protagonist, a coming-of-age story, a fantasy world, and a chilling story that isn’t outright horror – and we suspect that he could have knocked this one out of the park. Hopefully his continued guidance on the project will help give it the adaptation fans have long been waiting for.

dragon’s eyes

Aimed at young readers but also connected to The stall and his mammoth dark tower book series, King solo fantasy novel dragon’s eyes was considered a “YA response to game of thrones” by Deadline when a Hulu series adaptation of the book was announced in 2019. Seth Grahame-Smith – the author of Pride and prejudice and zombies whose name is constantly attached to projects that never seem to go anywhere — was even named showrunner.

Eyes was previously unsuccessfully developed as an animated feature film and as a Syfy miniseriesand it sadly looks like the Hulu version suffered the same fate. Grahame-Smith went on The Kingcast podcast to announce that the project was stalled due to budgetary and creative considerations. While it’s too early for other creators and actors to join us, Hulu’s adaptation represented the best chance yet for a more family-friendly King tale to be brought to the screen.

The dark tower

We all know what happened in 2017 when a movie called The dark tower, purportedly based on and a sequel to King’s titanic eight-book fantasy/horror/sci-fi/western cycle, has made its debut in theaters after years of stalled attempts. The film bombarded critics, die-hard King fans and the general public in spectacular fashion: in addition to being a rambling and incoherent film, King fans were left infuriated by the way Sony tried to sum up his magnum opus to a 90-minute film, while a larger audience either didn’t know what to think or didn’t care.

The film was the end result of years of development for the project, which was initially in the hands of JJ Abrams (circa 2007) before being acquired by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer’s Imagine Entertainment in 2010. Abrams envisioned a simple series of seven films (the eighth book had yet to be released), but he and his company Bad Robot retired from the business in 2009.

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