Which Stephen King Book Will Be Adapted Next?

Stephen King adaptations are like iPhones: they’re everywhere, not every version is great, and there’s a traffic-jam clamor to have the next one. Devoted fans will know that an adaptation to his 2011 novel 11.22.63 just premiered on Hulu this Monday to great, justified fanfare, but even five years from publication to production seems long in comparison. It took a little over six months for Hollywood to greenlight an adaptation of King’s 2014 novel, Mr. Mercedes.

National treasure that he is, it feels less like a gold rush and more like an endless river of adaptations coming down from his cabin in Maine. We’re taking a look at some of his un-adapted novels, and just how likely they are to be adapted in the first place. 


Rage (1977)

What It’s About: After being expelled, a disturbed high school senior shoots his teachers and holds a classroom at gunpoint, opening up the vicious psychology of the students.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: Aside from being a darkly graphic book, Rage also has some disturbing connections to actual tragedies that have happened, which gave the book an unsettling reputation. In response, King allowed the book to fall out of print in the late 90s, a move he later called “a good thing.”

Likelihood Score: 0 / 5 Kings 


From a Buick 8 (2002)

What It’s About: The killing of a state officer by a drunk driver prompts the officer’s son to visit his father’s police barracks, where he discovers a car with extraordinary, ominous powers.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: We’ve seen King’s supernatural vehicle horrors twice before in film form: in the average John Carpenter opus Christine, and in the 80s full-tilt flop Maximum Overdrive. Neither of them inspired confidence for another try and even though one attempt was levied in 2005, no one wanted to put funding down for a Buick 8 adaptation. Until the public’s truly afraid of Google’s autonomous cars, auto-horror as a genre may be over.

Likelihood Score: 1 / 5 Kings


Insomnia (1994)

What It’s About: An insomniac widower begins having hallucinations during his late-night walks. These visions turn out to be real and part of a plot by mythological beings determined to spread death and misery throughout the small Maine town.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: Insomnia is a long, complicated story that heavily features characters, elements, and influences from King’s long, complicated Dark Tower series. To sell an adaptation of this story as a stand-alone movie for cinephiles would prove to be very difficult.

Likelihood Score: 2 / 5 Kings 


Rose Madder (1995)

What It’s About: A woman leaves her hometown to escape her abusive marriage to a hot-headed cop. While in hiding, she attempts to find a new life while uncovering the mysterious nature of her new city and dodging her husband’s manic manhunt.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: A recent, more sappy spin on this premise is found in Nicholas Sparks’ Safe Haven, whose film adaptation didn’t fare so well itself. King’s gloomy take would (ironically) give the story some life, but likely not enough to have a movie made. Even King himself criticized Rose Madder and Insomnia as “stiff, trying-too-hard novels.”

Likelihood Score: 2 / 5 Kings


Blaze (2007)

What It’s About: A brain-damaged con man kidnaps a millionaire’s son, following the imaginary advice of his deceased partner in crime. As his affection grows for the infant, the horrors of his own tortured upbringing are slowly brought into the light.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: Blaze was a holdover from King’s “Richard Bachman” days, and King has hinted that its completion almost 35 years after the first draft was written was for sentimentality’s sake. While there’s nothing quite wrong with Blaze, its lack of an excitement factor leaves it less appealing than more other titles in his catalogue.

Likelihood Score: 2 / 5 Kings


Roadwork (1981)

What It’s About: An emotionally unsteady working-class man is driven to violence when he discovers his home and workplace is slated to be demolished to make room for an interstate highway.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: Roadwork, like many others on this list, was ‘written’ under King’s perennial pseudonym Richard Bachman. This might not signal lesser quality, but it has caused the book to fall under the casual fan’s radar (is it a coincidence that four of seven Bachman novels are on this list?). Secondly, the politics of the book can be manipulated to be relevant—pressing and high-stakes—but one wonders whether they’d be entertaining enough to justify at least 90 minutes.

Likelihood Score: 2 / 5 Kings


Joyland (2013)

What It’s About: A college student working at an amusement park in 1973 uncovers a series of mysterious, unsolved murders, teaming up with a disabled boy and his standoffish mother to find the culprit.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: Even with the “from bestselling author” bump, it’s not commercially well known; Joyland was released in the shadow of his other novel that year, Doctor Sleep, despite being nominated for an Edgar mystery book award. Tastemakers could also argue that the nostalgic ‘summer amusement park’ setting seems a little played-out, low-brow, or (heaven forbid!) Goosebumps-y.

Likelihood Score: 3 / 5 Kings 


The Regulators (1996)

What It’s About: In suburban Ohio, an autistic boy with the power to control reality must team up with his quiet neighbors to fight characters from his imagination that are based on his favorite television shows.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: Time, presumably. The book has ‘screenplay’ in its DNA: there are TV script excerpts incorporated into the plot, and King began working on the story as a screenplay. The author even tweeted in 2014 that he was discussing adapting it for TV, but nothing’s been announced yet. King clearly has a fondness for it, but is simply farther down on his list.

Likelihood Score: 3 / 5 Kings


Lisey’s Story (2006)

What It’s About: While cleaning out her husband’s writing space, the widow of a wildly successful novelist unpacks the realities of their [SM3] complicated marriage that were left forgotten and repressed. All the while, an obsessed fan threatens her to turn over the unpublished pieces or risk deadly consequences.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: At its core a psychological romance, Lisey’s Story doesn’t have the graphic appeal something like It or The Shining has, but it’s certainly liked by the community that knows of the book. Lisey’s Story was nominated for both a Bram Stoker and a World Fantasy Award, and it had the unique honor of being named, in an all caps Reddit AMA post, Stephen King’s favorite novel.

Likelihood Score: 4 / 5 Kings


Doctor Sleep (2013)

What It’s About: An adult Danny Torrence – the supernatural son from The Shining – continues to grapple with his waning powers and his father’s legacy as he encounters a gang of quasi-immortals that feed off psychic powers, a cat with the talent of predicting people’s deaths, and a girl with dazzling ‘shining’ abilities.

Why It Hasn’t Been Adapted: That’s hard to guess. It’s author notwithstanding, it has all the signs of a no-questions adaptation: A New York Times Bestseller, the sequel to an earthshattering novel (The Shining), and fantastic potential for special effects. Perhaps the original Stanley Kubrick film leaves big shoes to fill in the story’s universe.

Likelihood Score: 5 / 5 Kings


 Featured image courtesy of Jon Dekel / Postmedia News