New Line Cinema is staying in business with iconic author Stephen King, after the success of IT, the highest-grossing horror movie of all time. The studio is moving forward on an adaptation of Stephen King's The Long Walk, hiring James Vanderbilt to write the screenplay adaptation, although no one has been brought on to direct at this time. Vanderbilt will also produce through his Mythology Entertainment company, alongside partners Bradley Fisher and William Sherak, with Tracey Nyberg serving as an executive producer.
The Long Walk was first published in 1973, with Stephen King writing the book under his pen name RIchard Bachman. The story is set in a future dystopian version of America that is ruled by an authoritarian leader. Every year, the country holds an annual walking contest where 100 teenagers must keep walking under strict rules until only one is left standing, with the winner receiving a sizable prize. The book follows a 16-year-old walker named Raymond Garraty and the other teenagers in his group, some who are good, some bad and some with mysterious agendas.
Both Jame Vanderbilt and Bradley Fisher, who formed Mythology Entertainment with Laeta Kalogridis in 2011, had been trying to bring The Long Walk to the big screen for more than a decade. The project had originally been stuck in development for years with Frank Darabont, who had previously adapted Stephen King stories with The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile and The Mist. James Vanderbilt was so passionate about trying to make a movie based on The Long Walk that he wrote early drafts of his adaptation on spec several years ago, even though he did not have the screen rights. Once Darabont exited the project, Vanderbilt and Fisher brought the project to New Line.
This project is just the latest to come forward after a number of successful Stephen King adaptations last year. While The Dark Tower was a surprising flop, IT made box office history by breaking the 44-year-old record set by The Exorcist to become the highest-grossing horror movie ever, and the first ever horror movie to crack $300 million domestic. Netflix also debuted adaptations of Gerald's Game and 1922 last year, while TV shows based on King's work such as The Mist and Mr. Mercedes were well received.
The Stephen King renaissance is showing no signs of slowing down, with the upcoming TV series Castle Rock, showcasing the fictional Maine town that has connections to several King stories. Paramount is also developing an adaptation of Stephen King's Pet Semetary while Universal recently won a bidding war for an adaptation of The Tommyknockers, which has James Wan and Roy Lee set to produce. James Vanderbilt first made a name for himself as a writer 15 years ago, when his first three films, Basic, Darkness Falls and The Rundown all hit theaters in the same year. His writing credits also include Zodiac, The Losers, The Amazing Spider-Man, White House Down, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Solace, his directorial debut Truth, Independence Day: Resurgence and upcoming movies The Janson Directive and Murder Mystery. The Hollywood Reporter broke the news earlier today.