The Stand Movie Is In Trouble

Josh Boone gave a glimpse at his plans for the theatrical version of The Stand.
We’re gonna do one three-hour, R-rated version with an amazing A-list cast across the board. Every single one of those characters will be somebody you recognize and somebody you relate to. And it’s gonna be awesome. I’m really excited. It’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever got to do in my entire life. If 12-year-old me had ever known that one day I’d be doing this, to even just go back and look at that kid, I’d be like, Keep doing what you’re doing! It’s just crazy. I’ve met so many actors over the years, and like, when I met Stephen King, I hugged him with tears in my eyes. He meant that much to me when I was young. I still say everything I learned about writing I learned from Stephen King. I don’t read screenplays. I don’t read screenplay how-to books. It’s always just, establish the character. Establish the character.
Vulture's Gilbert Cruz did not follow up on that statement at all.

So let's size that up:

1. It's going to be "ONE" three hour movie.
One.  ONE!  Uno.

Okay, the hobbit is about 276 pages.  It is being made into three movies.  The Stand is over 1,000 pages; and it is going to be made into one movie.  See a problem?  They are turning an epic story into a three hour cram session.

The Stand is enormously complex in terms of plot and character alone.  It simply cannot (CANNOT) be done in 3 hours.  Remember the History Channel's adaptation of The Bible miniseries?  It skipped and dipped and made such a mess of things it left anyone who knew much  about the Bible cringing.  In fact, the final scenes tried to accomplish the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles  and the Revelation all in just a few brief scenes.  It was terrible.  Will we have to suffer through similar carnage with The Stand?

Here's  what's frustrating: When a book has a really great scene, and the movie barely gives that a cursory nod.  The film doesn't have time to build up suspense as Larry heads  toward the Lincoln Tunnel, just as well spend much time with him navigating through it.  There isn't time to build the scenes, because the plot is so big, it has to just keep bombarding us with more information.

There is no room for character development. Characters will have to be combined, cut or barely mentioned.

King released the "Complete and Uncut" edition.  Now Boone is going to give us a version even Readers Digest wouldn't recognize.  A three hour version of The Stand is like a circumcision that cuts off the entire. . . never mind.  Let's just say that three hours isn't enough time to set the stage and tell the early stories; just as well complete the entire novel.

2. There's going to be lots of big names.  Yeah -- I don't care.  King once said it's the tale, not he who tells it.  And sometimes with movies, it's about the story, not the actors.  Some movies get so focused  on the actors that it loses sight of the most important thing; the story.

A cast of unknowns made Star Wars.  However, Dennis Quaid, Greg Kinnear, Hugh Jackman, Kate Winslet, Liev Schreiber, Naomi Watts, Anna Faris, Emma Stone, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Chloë Grace Moretz, Gerard Butler, Halle Berry, Stephen Merchant, Terrence Howard, Elizabeth Banks, and Julianne Moore couldn't save Movie 43, about which Lou Lumenick of the New York Post worte, "If you mashed-up the worst parts of the infamous Howard the Duck, Gigli, Ishtar and every other awful movie I've seen since I started reviewing professionally in 1981, it wouldn't begin to approach the sheer soul-sucking badness of the cringe-inducing Movie 43."

3. It's going to be an R-rated version. 
Okay, I guess.  I'm not sure I'm really familiar with movies aiming to get an R-rating.  Surely what he is trying to say is that the movie will be more gritty, scary and so on than the mini-series was.

What's really going on with this R-rating talk is an apology.  "Sorry we're only making one movie when we should make three.  But hey, we'll put a lot of gore and sex into it, and that should make things better."  Toss in there, "And, don't get mad yet, because we are going to get a lot of really super name actors that you'll recognize right off the bat.  That will make it a great movie."  He's apologizing!  Groveling.  Begging. "Please don't give up on my movie.  I'll make a lot of things go boom and spend a lot of money."

Can it be done?  I guess.  Can it be done well?  No way.  Thus far, I like the cover of Revival better than I like this news about The Stand.

The Stand is one of those novels the Constant Reader really doesn't want Hollywood to touch unless  they know what  they're doing.  It's an American classic.  Look, don't mess up To Kill A Mocking Bird, The Grapes of Wrath or The Stand.


  1. Three hours is a shame, sounds way to short. There will probably be vast changes. When they we're writing the 2 hour version of It, reportedly the writer cut out 2 characters, Stan & Mike, and had Bill be the one who stayed behind in Derry :s

  2. From the sound of things, "The Fault in Our Stars" is a good flick. Boone sounds like a nice guy, and he sounds like a Stephen King fan. I don't see how any King fan would settle for making a three-hour version of this story. You'd have to essentially cut out the entirety of the first act, in which the world collapses, and begin the story in a post-apocalypse scenario. Even then, there's too much story.

    If this gets made -- and I hope it does not -- then it is apt to be an utter failure. My luck, the whole three hours'll be about Trashcan Man and The Kid. Yippee...

  3. I can only repeat what I've said before. The Stand is the kind of idea that works best as a three or four season TV series.

    Part of what makes this story work better for TV is that it allows for three seasons of introducing a world, and it's main players, and then giving three good seasons of character buildup, all of which can be paid off in, hopefully, well done final showdown sequence, in which the viewer is fully invested in what happens to the characters.

    Then again, that whole announcement strikes me as more empty words from Tinseltown. I doubt well be seeing much of anything anytime in the foreseeable future, or at least not until a network like AMC gets hold of the rights (and maybe hires George Romero and Frank Darabont to helm it).


  4. This book should not be made into a motion picture. The television miniseries had some weaknesses, but worked well.It does not need to be redone in a waterdowned, CGI saturated flic that will be long on effects and short on story.

  5. "hey, let's turn the entire Star Wars saga into one film."
    "Maybe Lord of the Rings could be a single feature."

  6. He sounds excited about it but I'm still weary. And you're right - who cares if all the actors are A-listers? I want to see someone who can accurately portray the character, I don't care if I know the actor's name or not.

    Now, I love The Stand miniseries that already exists, despite Jamey Sheridan's mullet, but I have to admit that I'm ready to see something a little less cheesy and a bit more cinematic when it comes to this story. I'm hopeful, but only slightly.

  7. Having the movie be a three-hour single film does not worry me that much. Let's face it, a big chunk of The Stand's 1000 plus pages is devoted to characterisation which a skilled actor can convey without us having to know the character's entire life story. A mini-series or even a TV series would just stretch out the story with way too much filler. Case in point - The Shining mini-series (adapted by King himself) which was WAY too long and should have been a simple two-hour movie. The story of The Stand is epic to be sure but that "epicness" can be conveyed with the grandness of the big screen and a good director.

    1. Wrong.

      Even if you dump the entirety of the character-building stuff -- which, in King's work, tends to be the primary focus, and is therefore not really eliminable -- there's still way too much story. The only way to do it at all would be to literally gut it. I don't see the point.

      It's likely that there is one exec somewhere at Warner Bros. who has a massive hard-on for the idea of getting the movie into theatres because he/she has a vague notion that it would make a lot of money. But that exec also obviously has zero idea of what makes the book work, zero idea of how to adapt it to the screen, and zero interest in actually making a good film.

      Personally, I hope it just doesn't get made.

      "A mini-series or even a TV series would just stretch out the story with way too much filler." What an odd comment. What is your definition of "filler"? If the majority of the novel strikes you as filler, you're obviously reading for some very different reason than I am.

    2. Bryant is right on the money on ALL counts.

      I don't know if the book needs three or four seasons (in fact, unless said seasons are only about four episodes long, I know it doesn't), but I do think a ten- or twelve-hour maxi-series, treated as one full season of a television show, would be the only way to film this.

      And, as more than a year has passed since this post, I understand that Boone wants to do this; have an eight-hour mini-series on Showtime and then cap it off with a huge three-hour movie. I don't think the movie is necessary. Just make the whole thing TV series, preferably on Netflix so we can binge-watch it.

      And may I also add that without the character development and time spent on their journeys, there's no point to making this movie.

    3. A single maxi-season might be able to do it justice, but I think there is enough there to do more than that. You would probably have to lengthen the chronology a bit, but I don't know that that would be a bad thing; the novel, as much as I love it, feels rushed and incomplete in some ways.

      Hard to believe, but true.