Stephen King has been a hot property in Hollywood for decades, but on the heels of IT’s success, it should come as no surprise that two of studio horror’s major players have just teamed for an adaptation of one of King’s novels. The Conjuring filmmaker James Wan and IT producer Roy Lee are pairing up to produce an adaptation of the 1987 sci-fi horror The Tommyknockers.
The plans is for the duo to produce via their banners, Atomic Monster (Wan) and Vertigo (Lee), along with veteran producer Larry Sanitsky, who previously executive produced the 1993 television miniseries adaptation of The Tommyknockers. The project went out to studios and streaming networks, including Netflix, on Thursday. A few years ago, NBC was developing a TV adaptation, but that project appears to have died out.
Sanitsky holds the screen rights to the property, per THR, he wrote the following in a mission statement spent to prospective buyers,
“It is an allegorical tale of addiction (Stephen was struggling with his own at the time), the threat of nuclear power, the danger of mass hysteria and the absurdity of technical evolution run amuck. All are as relevant today as the day the novel was written. It is also a tale about the eternal power of love and the grace of redemption.”
The story follows the small town of Haven, Maine, where the residents are slowly controlled and transformed by a dangerous gas seeping out of a spacecraft in the woods. As the townsfolk gain new abilities and develop a dangerous hive mind, a man finds he’s immune to the effects thanks to a steel plate in his head and tries to stop the invasion. The Tommyknockers also happens to be one of King’s most self-referential books, including a Pennywise sighting, references to Cujo and The Dead Zone, and a number of other Easter Eggs for King diehards.
he Tommyknockers was written during the last leg of King’s well-publicized battle with drugs, and despite being widely considered one of his inferior works — King himself called it “an awful book” — the novel is one of the best-selling books in King’s career and was the best-selling book the year it was released. King once said, “The book is about 700 pages long, and I’m thinking, ‘There’s probably a good 350-page novel in there.’” Hopefully, Wan and Lee can pry out the good parts and hone it down to another killer King movie.
Here’s the official synopsis for the novel:
“Something was happening in Bobbi Anderson’s idyllic small town of Haven, Maine. Something that gave every man, woman, and child in Haven powers far beyond those of ordinary mortals. Something that turned the town into a deathtrap for all outsiders. Something that is buried in the woods behind Bobbi’s house. With the help of her friend, Jim Gardener, they uncover an alien spaceship. And as they learn more about this strange discovery, the citizens of Haven begin to change: The townspeople are being welded into one organic, homicidal, and fearsomely brilliant entity in thrall to the Tommyknockers, who piloted the alien ship.”