In the last decade, Hollywood has tackled what had been considered unfilmable books with varying degrees of success. “The Lord of the Rings,” “Watchmen,” and even the upcoming “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn” were stories that many thought could never be translated to film. Warner Bros. is looking to continue the trend and has been working toward a filmed version of Stephen King’s massive novel “The Stand” for several years. Now HitFix reports that two key players in the Harry Potter franchise, director David Yates and writer Steve Kloves, are in final negotiations to make the big screen version of King’s opus.
Yates took over the Harry Potter directing duties with “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” and helmed the remainder of that series through to the record-breaking release of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.” His name has been linked to “The Stand” before, but not as solidly as now, and the inclusion of Kloves as the writer is a new development altogether. Kloves wrote the screenplay for every Harry Potter film with the exception of “Order of the Phoenix.” As such, he’s shown to be very capable of taking dense source material and making it accessible to movie audiences while still being true to the original work.
“The Stand” is one of King’s most extensive and best-loved works. Spanning over a 1,000 pages, the book details an apocalyptic scenario and aftermath. In the book, over 99 percent of the human population is wiped out when an engineered super-virus is accidentally let loose on the populace. The smatterings of American survivors form two separate societies.
One is a free democratic society under the kindly leadership of the elderly Mother Abigail, the other a dictatorship controlled by the tyrannical Randall Flagg. The two societies develop independently but once they learn of each other’s existence, it forces them to take a stand as good faces off against evil in the wake of humanity’s downfall. The sprawling work is broken into three sections and contains a very large number of characters, as well as great levels of detail that would be intimidating for any writer or director.
“The Stand” has been adapted previously as a six-hour television mini-series which remained as faithful to the book as possible while still being appropriate for television. This meant that some of the more brutal or explicit scenes were cut or altered. Warner Bros. has stated it plans for multiple films, though the studio hasn’t stated how many would be made. Given the structure of the book, a trilogy seems likely. This project should bring excitement to Stephen King fans who recently saw the author’s other major work, “The Dark Tower,” fall apart at Paramount after the ambitious project was deemed too risky.
With the Harry Potter series completed, Warner Bros. is no doubt eager to get another franchise going; “The Stand” may be what it needs to fill that void. This is a decidedly more adult property and King fans may cry foul if the studio attempts to make the films with a PG-13 rating, making it less of a sure thing than Harry Potter ever was. Using the team behind the darkest of the Potter films makes sense for this franchise, and it’s in keeping with Warner Bros. tendency to retain successful directors as much as possible. The studio has already gone to considerable lengths to keep “The Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan in-house; it looks like the studio heads hope to do the same with Yates and Kloves.
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