Usually when books are sliced up and spread thin into multiple movies I roll my eyes and join in with all of the other complainers. Usually it’s just to make more money off of a story that could be told in twenty minutes. Usually I’m disappointed. However, my heart rejoiced when I heard the rumor that the movie adaptation of Steven King’s The Stand is now set for four films.
The Stand was the first King I read, and it sunk its deep, dirty claws into my heart forevermore. The original book is 823 pages long and filled with dozens of distinct characters. So, when Vulture reported in June of this year that director Josh Boone was doing a three hour version, the numbers just didn’t add up. How do books under 200 pages get a trilogy and King’s masterpiece gets crammed into three hours? The Fault in Our Stars director surely is talented, but this seemed like a bad magic trick. The extended version of The Stand novel is 1152 pages long. If they stuck to this version, 384 pages of plot would have to fit into each hour of the film.
Luckily, Warner Bros. changed their minds and offered Boone multiple movies. His response, as he says in Kevin Smith’s Hollywood Babble-On podcast, “I was willing to drop it in an instant because you’re able to do an even truer version that way.”
For those of you who have not yet read what is arguably King’s magnum opus, The Stand is set in post-apocalyptic 1980’s (1990’s in the Complete & Uncut Edition) USA. King has compared this work to Lord of the Rings, and in someways that is not too far off. A man from Texas, Stu Redman, travels across the country, encountering other survivors, to lead a charge against the forces of evil.
This is a complex story that has been through a questionable six-hour TV adaptation and adapted into 31 issues of comics, it is no small project. Boone seems to understand the weight of this mission, as he told Smith: “When I thought about The Stand it’s so much about the vast network of characters, and all their problems. It’s kind of a morality play set in post-apocalyptic America. The battle between good and evil is the battle for these peoples’ souls. They make choices which dictate the fate of humanity.”
Boone also told Vulture that the cast would be filled with A-list actors so that “every single one of those characters will be somebody you recognize and somebody you relate to. And it’s gonna be awesome.” Part of this stellar cast is rumored to be Matthew McConaughey as everyone’s favorite villain, Randall Flagg. I can’t imagine many fans are objecting to four movies of evil McConaughey.
While it’s going to be hell to have to wait months or years between each installment’s release, four movies will allow King’s characters some room for development. After all, the scariest part of every Stephen King horror is the evil that lives inside even the sweetest person.