We’re in the midst of one of Hollywood’s periodic Stephen King waves at the moment, with the success of last summer’s It providing a rising tide for all sorts of misshapen boats (like, say, James Wan’s upcoming adaptation of King’s not especially good book The Tommyknockers). Still, for every The Mangler or Cell that inevitably gets made during one of these occasional resurgences of Hollywood interest in the horror master’s work, we do sometimes get a couple of more interesting projects. Like, say, the news that New Line is working on an adaptation of one of King’s earliest, least-read books, the nastily efficient psychological drama The Long Walk.
Published in 1979 under King’s Richard Bachman pseudonym (but written much earlier), the book is about a grisly, murderous marathon sponsored by a dystopian government, which sees 100 young men begin walking from the Maine-Canada border at a steady pace of 5 kilometers per hour. The last man/boy who can keep his body walking is given the prize of his choice, for the rest of his life; the other 99 are given a ticket, which is the book’s cheerfully euphemistic way of saying that they’re gunned down by a waiting truck of dead-eyed soldiers. It’s a simple, vicious premise, one that the young King mined for all sorts of ugly psychological lessons and thoughts.
It’s also a largely internal story, though, which has flummoxed a number of King-friendly filmmakers—including John Romero and Frank Darabont—who’ve tried to adapt the novel in the past. Now, though, New Line has tapped James Vanderbilt, who wrote the Robert Redford/Cate Blanchett drama Truth, to pen a script, and Bradley Fischer and William Sherak to co-produce. Long-time fans of the book, Vanderbilt and Fischer apparently sensed that the time was right to try to get it up on the road, before another Dark Tower movie comes along to readjust people’s expectations of what the author’s usual film adaptation output is actually usually like.