After shattering box office records with their horror sensation IT, New Line is moving in another Stephen King adaptation that’s been trying to make its way to screens for decades. This time, the studio will take on a title penned under King’s pseudonym Richard Bachman, the dystopian horror novel The Long Walk.
Set not too far in the future, when America has become a perilous police state, The Long Walk follows one hundred teenage boys who volunteer to participate in an annual contest where one winner will be awarded anything he wants for the rest of his life — the other 99 players will die. The rules are simple; don’t stop and keep your pace above four miles an hour. If you falter too long, you get a warning. If you get three warnings, you’re out. And by out, I mean dead.
Written under King’s pen name, with which he wrote some of his darkest, most unusual material, The Long Walk is a lean, mean piece of reading and perfect for a big screen adaptation. The new incarnation of the adaptation comes from filmmaker James Vanderbilt, who’s penned scripts for everything from Zodiac to White House Down, and previously wrote and directed the 2015 Cate Blanchett drama Truth. Vanderbilt will also produce alongside Bradley Fischer and William Sherak via their Mythology Entertainment production company.
King regular Frank Darabont, who previously adapted The Mist, The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, held the rights and tried to get a film adaptation off the ground for years. Per THR, Vanderbilt wanted to make the film for years, even penning a spec script without the rights, and once those rights slipped, the filmmaker moved in quickly and set the project up at New Line.
King’s library has proven a robust source for film and TV over the decades, and now is a particular popular moment for the horror maestro’s work following the blowout box office success of IT, which went on to make more than $700 million worldwide. Paramount is readapting the classic Pet Sematary and Universal just announced an adaptation of Tommyknockers from James Wan‘s Atomic Monster. New Line is also moving full-speed-ahead on IT: Chapter 2, which is expected to kick off filming this summer.
Here’s the official synopsis for The Long Walk via Amazon.
“In this #1 national bestseller, “master storyteller” (Houston Chronicle) Stephen King, writing as Richard Bachman, tells the tale of the contestants of a grueling walking competition where there can only be one winner—the one that survives.
In the near future, when America has become a police state, one hundred boys are selected to enter an annual contest where the winner will be awarded whatever he wants for the rest of his life. Among them is sixteen-year-old Ray Garraty, and he knows the rules—keep a steady walking pace of four miles per hour without stopping. Three warnings and you’re out—permanently.”