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HBO orders limited series of Stephen King's The Outsider with Jason Bateman directing

Photo: Francois Durand (Getty Images)

Stephen King’s books have already been optioned by the time they land in the hands of readers. It’s been that way for years. Still, it’s rare to see one of his stories get ushered into production as quickly as this year’s The Outsider, which Variety reports has been ordered to series by HBO. Also of note: Rogue One star Ben Mendelsohn will star in the adaptation, with Jason Bateman serving as both a director and an executive producer.

On its surface, The Outsider looks a lot like another one of HBO’s limited series, Sharp Objects—there’s a small town, a dead kid, and plenty of gossip-filled intrigue. King’s story, however, is a decidedly supernatural one that, as it unfolds, touches on the intricacies of accusation and the perils brought on by a court of public opinion.

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It’s not King’s strongest latter-day novel, but it has a formidable writer at its helm in Richard Price. Price, the novelist behind enduring crime novels like Clockers and Lush Life, has a long history with HBO, having been a writer on The Wire, The Deuce, and The Night Of. We’re excited to see how his hard-boiled vision aligns with King’s sense of the macabre. 

Bateman, who’s been leaning into genre of late with his work on Netflix’s Ozark, will direct the first two episodes. You could also wager that another of The Outsider’s executive producers, Jack Bender, will helm some entries, as he’s spent the past few years directing on the Audience Network’s Mr. Mercedes. This is particularly relevant as The Outsider and Mr. Mercedes both share a character, and, after its acquisition of Time Warner, AT&T now owns both the Audience Network and HBO. Crossover? We’ll see.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.