You know how the Solar System works, right? Same thing with King.
January 15, 2015 4:25 PM   Subscribe

​​Den of Geek: "If Warner Bros. were smart, they'd mine the King Universe for that much-needed franchise. Apart from fun little easter eggs here and there, the films have never been acknowledged as part of a larger universe. Yet this universe has one of the most coherent backbones ever known in fiction. World-building wouldn't be difficult at all. Just look at how all of this stuff connects..." Previously:​ ​"That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure​ ​human fuckery."​​ [spoiler alert for both links]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (47 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
This flowchart is linked in the Den of Geek article and it's pretty incredible.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:28 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


The films have never been linked, but didn't Stephen King go to great lengths to tie all his everything together in The Dark Tower series?

I've tried to read that series twice now and have never finished it, but I've heard that's what he does...
posted by hippybear at 4:36 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


That's pretty much the thesis of the Den of Geek article, hippybear.

And, hrrrmmm to that "The Dark Tower would be this universe's Avengers". Yeah, The Dark Tower is like The Avengers only 30 hours long, of which 5 which is an interminable journey on a riddle-crazed monorail, and instead of dramatic fight scenes it has a troubling "schizophrenic black woman fucks a demon into submission" sequence. So, a hard sell as a blockbuster movie series, and I can see why it's struggled in development. (It'd work very well as a HBO series though, which could give it the time it allows to breathe.)

It does, however, have a pre-written Stan Lee-esque cameo role for King. So there's that.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:39 PM on January 15, 2015 [10 favorites]


Oh, 4X the Randall Flagg.
posted by clavdivs at 4:42 PM on January 15, 2015


If Warner Bros. were smart

You can probably stop right there.
posted by aaronetc at 4:46 PM on January 15, 2015 [18 favorites]


The Dark Tower is way too tedious to be The Avengers, as mentioned above. However, big-budget, smartly directed versions of It and The Stand would be a great thing. I guess my interest in some overarching King-o-verse is tepid at best, since I gave up somewhere around Insomnia.
posted by Kafkaesque at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


A Twilight Zone-ish series of adaptations of his short stories could be really cool. (And as I recall from my childhood, his stories that made it into the 80s version were horrifically terrifying.) Be a little surprised that Amazon/Netflix/HBO haven't considered such a thing.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 4:54 PM on January 15, 2015


By the time a Dark Tower adaptation finally rolls around at the pace outlined in the article, I think Joseph Gordon-Levitt will finally be old enough to be a proper Roland. So that's good timing.
posted by Greg Nog at 4:56 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I predict Flagg will drive a Lincoln.
posted by clavdivs at 5:10 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


My Gene Wolfe HBO series is one step closer to reality. Beware evildoers!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:43 PM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


Here I was thinking this would be about the potentially awesome King Features Syndicate Cinematic Universe. Consider that Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey are already explicitly linked....
posted by dhartung at 5:56 PM on January 15, 2015 [15 favorites]


I've said before and I'll say again, the best case scenario for a Dark Tower movie series would be a David-Lynch-Dune level horrorshow, and I would pay good money to see it happen and laugh at the ashes.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:32 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


There's a lot of reasons why the MCU stuff has worked, and sure the shared universe is part of it, but boy are dumb attempts to replicate that success doing only that one thing going to leave a trail of wreckage and broken dreams across the film exec landscape.
posted by Artw at 6:46 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


I've only read The Stand, but wouldn't there have to be some significant changes and creative destruction done to make the King-verse fit into a PG-13 mold? Because there's no way WB would consider making a shared universe of R-rated films, it wouldn't be able to make anywhere close to the money a comic book or YA movie universe could.
posted by FJT at 6:50 PM on January 15, 2015


There's a lot of reasons why the MCU stuff has worked, and sure the shared universe is part of it

The MCU success formula has mostly been the Pixar formula: make several good movies in a row (presided over some sharp creative types who know and care whether the writing and stories are any good), embrace rather than keep ironic distance from the genres you're working in, and people start to believe that the Pixar/Marvel brand means you're probably going to get a pretty reliably entertaining movie.
posted by straight at 7:05 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


So I haven't read this article, I'll say that right out of the gate, but...if the premise is that the novels of Stephen King haven't been properly exploited for film, I mean, dude. Dude.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:07 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


I would love to see a good film adaptation of Salem's Lot, or even like a 1 TV season storyline of it like True Detective.
posted by koakuma at 8:09 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Just don't let King himself anywhere near it.

The guy took his scariest villain, Randall Flagg, and turned him into a weenie. On purpose.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:09 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


The Dark Tower series has a number of excellent action scenes in it, an average of at least one per book, so there's a lot of potential there, if also the need for some rewriting. (The aforementioned scene with the demon raping Susannah... dude, WTF.) Tighten up the story considerably, sand down the rough spots where King was obviously making up things as he went along (not to mention revising previous plot points that he'd changed his mind about), and stick to a relatively straightforward postapocalyptic Western with heavy Arthurian overtones that regularly shuttles between the distant future and the present, not to mention across parallel universes (I did say "relatively"), and they could have some real fun with it.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:27 PM on January 15, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is a really great idea, except they should choose a good writer to create the universe. Then, it would be awesome.
posted by signal at 8:31 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


a relatively straightforward postapocalyptic Western with heavy Arthurian overtones

Arthurian? I found what I read of Dark Tower to be more reflective of Childe Roland than Arthur legends.
posted by hippybear at 8:32 PM on January 15, 2015


Oh God, this roller coaster of emotions again?

Just leave me and Mid-World alone.

Because often silence is best
-SK

But seriously, make the movie-series-movie-series-movie thing that was originally proposed. Or something. As long as it's not like Lost ended up being (JJ Abrams, love ya but really, really glad you turned down the option that SK gave you).

But even more seriously: How about we prove his whole thing can work with a Talisman (with Black House sequel) movie before we get any more hopes up? How 'bout that, huh?
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:35 PM on January 15, 2015 [4 favorites]


Reading The Talisman is like the novel equivalent of watching a movie anyway. I think that's an excellent place to start. Hard to know how to trim it down to make it movie length, but that is one of the most visual novels I have ever read.
posted by hippybear at 8:38 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


...if the premise is that the novels of Stephen King haven't been properly exploited for film, I mean, dude. Dude.

The key word there is "properly", I think. I don't know all the factors behind it, but most of King's work does not translate well onto the screen at all. I mean, The Shining, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile are all I can think of off the top of my head that are enjoyable film experiences. And even that short list has controversy.
posted by nubs at 8:42 PM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]


Some people might say Hearts in Atlantis and The Mist are worth a mention as well. Not to mention that those stories are in the Dark Tower universe as well, depending on how fragile a connection you want to count as valid I suppose.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:47 PM on January 15, 2015


The 4-movie plan for The Stand sounds exhausting and frustrating: I don't want to wait a goddamn year between installments! It really reinforces that it -- and IT, for that matter -- would be much better served by a True Detective / Fargo style mini-series: well-budgeted, well-directed.

Planting a flag for "SK book I want to see a movie of": From A Buick 8. I always thought that the way it was written was practically a screenplay already; it's a nice traditional SK ensemble-cast thing; it'd be cheap on locations, like The Mist was; hell, probably cheap on effects too, the biggest challenge would be making one critical creature not-laughable.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:14 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


most of King's work does not translate well onto the screen at all

Because most of his writing is point-of-view and relies heavily on the characters' inner state and/or inner monologue. That's hard to translate to screen without either huge amounts of additional dialog, clunky voice-over, or extraordinary actors.

Kubrick's The Shining succeeded because it moved the story out of Jack's head. Maybe that's partly why King hated it so much? It also did away with a whole swathe of scene-setting; the movie drops us straight into the Overlook, the book has a lot of backstory on Jack's floundering teaching/writing career.

But mostly it's King's shorter stories, not his sprawling novels, that have translated best to film.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 9:22 PM on January 15, 2015 [5 favorites]


the movie drops us straight into the Overlook,

Jack walking across the lobby, yup though before this Kubrick used helicopter shots of landscape/ Jack and his wee band in the yellow VW. But that opening shot, skimming the water vering right past the little island. Road shadows from trees. The "birds eye view" All devices Kubrick used to disassociate Jacks inner monologue as stated. Kubricks Periodization with in the movie also delineates Jacks episodic thoughts into a cohesive story line.
In the book, Jack the failing writer, cobbles through the news clippings and bits. Prima materia for his next opus and the story has a background historically. Kubrick used the birds-eye again when Jack is "working". Kubrick cuts all that historical cobbling with characters, well the bartender. The repetitious words in various arrangement is of note and I cannot recall if King used that in the novel.
King did not like it because he did not understand how movies were made at that time.

The twins are the scariest thing in modern cinema imo.
posted by clavdivs at 10:59 PM on January 15, 2015 [2 favorites]


I mean, The Shining, Stand By Me, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile are all I can think of off the top of my head that are enjoyable film experiences.

I mean, I know the guy has written a lot of books, but considering several of those are considered some of the best films of all time on certain film list, I'd hardly say the film industry is doing miserably at translating his books to screen. I appreciate that in some cases this has involved radically changing the plot, but it wouldn't be the first time: read Children of Men (or rather don't), or "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" (Bladerunner) or even "We can remember if for you Wholesale" (Total Recall), or Minority Report.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 1:58 AM on January 16, 2015 [2 favorites]


I read The Stand and the entire Dark Tower series over the summer. They're both perfect candidates for films because they're each entirely too long and have a considerable amount of narrative excess, not to mention the fact that they both dispose of Randall Flagg in about the least satisfying ways imaginable. That, to me, is the biggest problem with each of those, other than the magical negroes. All of which could be fixed by someone savvy enough.
posted by Dokterrock at 2:02 AM on January 16, 2015


Some things I'd like to see on film:

The giant insane bear they had to fight
the train zooming over the badlands
the face off with Callahan in the vampire den
the fight with the robots in the calla

I don't need to see Susannah give birth to a giant spider
posted by angrycat at 4:23 AM on January 16, 2015 [4 favorites]


Here I was thinking this would be about the potentially awesome King Features Syndicate Cinematic Universe. Consider that Hi and Lois and Beetle Bailey are already explicitly linked....


I was thinking the same thing - except basically a giant-budget remake of Defenders of the Earth.

Oh. Earworm.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:15 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


Arthurian? I found what I read of Dark Tower to be more reflective of Childe Roland than Arthur legends

It gets more involved in Arthurian legend the further in you get. Guess which famous sword Roland's guns are made from.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:34 AM on January 16, 2015


I 100% thought "King" in the title meant MLK. I was imagining a "cinematic universe" bringing together different moments and members of the civil rights movement. It was an intriguing second or two.
posted by Legomancer at 6:38 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


Godzilla King of the Monsters Cinematic Universe
posted by Artw at 6:53 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


They should definitely try to do The Dark Tower. It would be the greatest cinematic experience since say, Heaven's Gate.
posted by happyroach at 6:56 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Talisman is the fucking bomb. Last I heard, Showtime was considering turning it into a miniseries. I would be very okay with this.

Haven't read Black House yet...
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:00 AM on January 16, 2015


Black House has a different feel to it -- that it isn't structured around a journey is one difference and it isn't quite as surreal. Definitely moments of high terror, though. (Are there wolfs in Black House? I forget)
posted by angrycat at 7:04 AM on January 16, 2015


My great fear is that King would take over production and then you have something wacky like the Under the Dome series. Under the Dome the novel was pretty great until the end (and the gratuitously cute children) but the series seems to be just a wackadoodle failure of a thing.
posted by angrycat at 7:09 AM on January 16, 2015 [3 favorites]


And yet it kept going...
posted by Artw at 7:35 AM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


The most terrifying thing about this article is that it implicitly makes the case for Warner to release a re-cut version of The Shining, more explicitly tied into the Kingverse. Like, the Kubrick movie will be going and we'll just occasionally cut to Matthew McConaughey standing in the snow with a Big Evil Grin, then dissolve back to the action. Every thirty minutes.
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:42 AM on January 16, 2015


Shut up...
posted by Splunge at 8:48 AM on January 16, 2015


"If Warner Bros. were smart, they'd mine the King Universe for that much-needed franchise. Apart from fun little easter eggs here and there, the films have never been acknowledged as part of a larger universe. Yet this universe has one of the most coherent backbones ever known in fiction. World-building wouldn't be difficult at all. Just look at how all of this stuff connects..."

Partially because of the calendar (the upcoming Monday holiday) - and partially because of the opening of Selma - my initial read was that this must be referring to the Rev. Martin Luther King.

Which would be awesome: I'd watch the hell out of that "King Universe" franchise.

(Edited to add: On preview, what Legomancer said above)
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2015


So who else has read the terrible The Shining sequel?
posted by Artw at 9:03 AM on January 16, 2015


So who else has read the terrible The Shining sequel?

That was Doctor Sleep, right? My brother gave it to me for Christmas 2013. I think I read about the first 75 pages or so, and then set it down. It resurfaced when I started doing a renovation of my little home office this fall, and I promptly dropped it into the box for going to the 2nd hand book store.

Just...blah.
posted by nubs at 10:04 AM on January 16, 2015


It's entire purpose seems to be as a vehicle for the Danny in AA scenes (which are actually pretty good) and to repeatedly underline that the boiler exploded and Scatman Crothers is still alive.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on January 16, 2015


I read Doctor Sleep and I could not begin to tell you what it was about. Except Danny's alcoholism
posted by angrycat at 2:55 PM on January 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


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