Not all of King's novels have made it to the screen
The Stephen King adaptation has become almost as much a staple as the Stephen King novel in the collective imagination, with countless produced shorts, films, and TV series based on his work. On the heels of It‘s enormous box office success, there are several King projects waiting in the wings, either in production or the final stages of development. And yet there are still, if you can believe it, more than a dozen of his books that haven’t been translated to the screen. Read through to learn more about them. (Upcoming adaptations that have been confirmed are excluded from this list.)
The first novel published under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, Rage is a notorious novel for King — though not exactly for the best of reasons. The book explores a school shooting and is commonly associated with actual incidents that took place in the ’80s and ’90s. King has said it was “a good thing” that Rage went out of print back in 2007, going so far as to say that if the book were published today he’d be labeled “mentally ill.”
The Long Walk (1979)
King’s The Long Walk closely echoes Philip K. Dick’s (successfully adapted) The Man in the High Castle, as an alternate history in which the Germans seem to have won World War II. Rights to the brutal, resonant dystopian novel were acquired by Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead) more than a decade ago, but nothing has come of it — though a celebrated animated fan film counts for something.
King himself has gone back and forth on this meditative novel about a man grieving over the loss of his son and struggling in his marriage. The author expressed disappointment with the book upon its initial reprinting, judging it to reflect his emotional state after his mother’s death, but he later cited it among his favorite early works.
The Eyes of the Dragon (1987)
A significant departure for King at the time, Eyes of the Dragon is a work of epic medieval fantasy, exploring themes of magic, good, and evil on a grand scale. Rights to the book have been optioned multiple times, most recently in 2012 as a potential Syfy series, but have never materialized into a produced adaptation.
King’s wide-ranging volume about a widower with insomnia who begins to see phenomena others cannot is a favorite among a select group of fans, even as it hasn’t gone far at all on the adaptation front. At nearly 800 pages, it’s a sly mix of sci-fi and horror that would present as many challenges to filmmakers as it would creative opportunities.
The Regulators (1996)
The Regulators was written and released concurrently with Desperation, considered its “mirror” novel — the two represent parallel universes sharing a group of characters. But while Desperation was adapted into an Emmy-nominated TV movie more than a decade ago, The Regulators has remained untouched. King said conversations about a TV adaptation were underway back in 2014. We’ve yet to see whether they’ve gone anywhere.
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon (1999)
The late George Romero was once attached to write and direct an adaptation of this psychological thriller, but plans stalled back in 2005 and were never revived. The novel’s premise, about a 9-year-old girl who gets lost in the woods and tries to make her way back home, provides as close to a YA movie template as King material might allow.
The Plant (2000)
Technically unfinished, The Plant was released by King as an e-book in 2000 — but that’s only the start of what makes it such an anomalous work. Indeed, The Plant is told entirely in an epistolary format, depicting the correspondence between a publishing house editor and the mysterious author of a manuscript.
Black House (2001)
The sequel to King and Peter Straub’s 1984 novel The Talisman — which was adapted as a produced short in 2008 and is currently in miniseries development — reunited the two authors and brought back protagonist Jack Sawyer. While producers are still trying to get Talisman adapted on a more commercial scale, there’s no word on when Black House could get the movie treatment.
From a Buick 8 (2002)
This one came very close: In 2005, Chesapeake Films was fully prepared to develop a From a Buick 8 movie, with a script by Johnathon Schaech and Richard Chizmar in hand and George Romero (again) attached to direct. But the project fizzled: Romero was replaced by Tobe Hooper in 2007, and by 2009 financing problems all but sealed its fate. (Notably, Hooper and Romero both died earlier this year.)
Hollywood is giving this one another go, however. Last year, William Brent Bell (The Boy) signed on to write and direct an adaptation. Will this one stick?
Blaze was written before Carrie back in the ’70s, and King recovered it decades later when he “found it” in an attic. As of now, there have been no reported conversations of transforming the book.
Duma Key (2008)
King’s Florida horror debut has been optioned multiple times in the decade since its publication, each time to no avail. The project is technically in development, but after years of stops and starts, no news is probably bad news.
The Edgar-nominated Joyland, set in a North Carolina amusement park in 1973, had The Help’s Tate Taylor attached as a writer-director a few years back, after first being optioned in 2013. But movement appeared to have stalled… until, last fall, it was put into development as a series at Freeform. With so much time passed, however, we’re still on a wait-and-see mindset.
Gwendy's Button Box (2017)
It’s been two years since Gwendy’s Button Box was published. What’s Hollywood waiting for?
No action so far from the film world on King’s novella from last year, which found the author working in an uncommonly optimistic mode. (Think of it like a happier Thinner.) But it’s also possible producers just can’t keep up with King nowadays. After all, his other big 2018 title, The Outsider, is headed to HBO for the prestige series treatment.