As we reported in the summer, Warner Bros. made a big move for director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves, the duo responsible for multiple films in the Harry Potter franchise to adapt Stephen King’s most celebrated novel The Stand into a two film sci-fi horror blockbuster. Warner Bros. were so determined to land Yates, they flew him out to the States just one day after the London premiere of the final Harry Potter film in July and sold him on this package.
Yates said yes, Kloves was quickly brought on as writer and the duo were set to work the rest of this year on preparing The Stand Part 1 (or 2) to shoot in 2012 for a release 2013. All seemed hunky dory, except last month Deadline broke the news that Ben Affleck had now been offered the job of bringing The Stand to the big screen with no mention of Kloves or Yates. What happened?
Collider managed to track down Yates and put the question to him;
“I was offered The Stand. I love The Stand, I read it when I was a kid, it was one of my favorite books when I was growing up, I love Stephen King, I think he’s a remarkable writer. And coming out of Potter, you wanna work with an author who has the same reach as a Jo Rowling, and frankly Stephen King does. My issues though were about the adaptation. I wanted to work with Steve Kloves, Steve Kloves wanted to work with me, we were both committed to doing it, but in that time it took to let go of Potter and to think about how we would tackle the adaptation, we both decided that it wasn’t for us, so we left it. We sort of withdrew basically.”
They quit basically when the undertaking of bringing The Stand films to life became too overwhelming. They of course aren’t the first to have suffered this problem. J.J. Abrams was once keen on bringing King’s other sci-fi/horror epic The Dark Tower to the big screen but after spending much more time on it (around two years) he too came to the conclusion that it was simply too daunting a task.
“What I love about King’s work and what I love about The Stand is the fact that Stephen King really puts you into these people’s lives, and you see the world from a very intimate human level, which normally is something I love. But we felt this pressure to make these super tentpole movies with this material, and the things that you get in Potter—which are these extraordinary episodes of action—they didn’t exist in the material, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to deliver the kind of movie that ultimately the studio was hoping to get from this material. I could see making a miniseries from it, a really interesting, intricate, layered, enjoyable long-burn of a miniseries, I could see that, but what was missing for me were the big movie moments in the material, the big set pieces.”
Clearly then if The Stand was a t.v. mini-series again he would have been all over it but he struggled to see the cinematic way of telling the story and he bailed.
So where does this leave The Stand currently? Well Warner Bros. have made it clear they want a film and that it’s Ben Affleck’s job if he wants it but we’ve had no update on the project in almost a month (to be fair, Affleck is probably re-reading the novel and that takes a few weeks) but he’s ALWAYS turned down the franchise gig when it comes to directing. But if he were to say yes, he would need to find a writer to help him bring the novel to the screen and all this takes time.
The Stand is a post-apocalyptic novel where a plague nicknamed Captain Trips has caused mass devastation to the planet, wiping out almost everyone. The novel focuses on the rag-tag group of survivors who share dreams of a mysterious evil being and they team-up, forming a community, to try and rid them of it. It’s an awesome novel and birthed a pretty cool mini-series in the 90s with Gary Sinise but it was always limited by it’s medium and with a big scale budget and someone as resourceful as Affleck, the possibilities are truly endless.
Affleck will be busy on Argo until at least late-summer so he if he does sign on we are probably about 12 months away from when filming could conceivably begin. He’s a helluva storyteller and working from one of the finest stories from a MASTER storyteller in King is a very exciting prospect…