It was a long time ago, in a universe not so unlike our own, that two men entered the pop-culture firmament with projects that actually came out the same day. April 5, 1974 saw the publication of Stephen King’s first novel, Carrie, and Steven Spielberg’s first theatrical release, The Sugarland Express. And never the twain would meet.
Well, that’s not entirely true. They’ve met plenty of times, and probably had more than one fight regarding which spelling of their first name is superior. But according to a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Spielberg has spent at least 36 years wanting to collaborate with the prolific author, and despite a few close calls, it’s simply never come to fruition. (And no, neither one thinks Spielberg being a hands-off exec producer on the TV adaptation of King’s 2009 novel Under The Dome really counts.) But ever since Spielberg tried to pull King into helping with the screenplay for 1982's Poltergeist—King was already on a ship to England when he got the message (this was pre-internet, kids), a delay that forced Spielberg to proceed without the author’s help—the director has been looking for a way to work with the author.
Spielberg talks about King like a separated-at-birth twin: “I don’t know how Stephen King and I aren’t related by blood. I cannot believe that part of Stephen King is not Jewish, and I can’t believe that we haven’t actually made a movie together. I really think Stephen and I have a spiritual connection in terms of the movies and the stories we love to tell.” And he’s quite clear about which stories of King’s he tried to tell. Spielberg bought the rights to 1984's The Talisman (a fantasy novel co-written with Peter Straub) before it came out, a narrative about which Spielberg thinks, “In the very near future, that’s going to be our richest collaboration...I’m not committing to the project as a director, I’m just saying that it’s something that I’ve wanted to see come to theaters for the last 35 years.”
The closest they’ve come to getting the project going was in the mid-2000s, when Spielberg attempted to turn it into a six-hour miniseries on TNT. But while that didn’t pan out, the director is clearly still trying to make it happen—his own personal “that’s so fetch”—now as a feature film.
There have been other attempts, too. In the ’90s the two discussed making a haunted house story about an old Victorian mansions together, but after Spielberg passed on it King reworked it into the 2002 ABC miniseries Rose Red. And Spielberg finally got tired of waiting to play with some of King’s creations, inserting a few of the famed horror author’s noteworthy subjects into his new pop-culture mashup Ready Player One, including the car from Christine and an iconic setting from a certain unnamed chase scene we don’t want to spoil for you, if you haven’t seen it yet. (Careful if you click through to the EW piece, because they do shout it out.) With a little luck, that Talisman project may happen very soon, however, at which point the two can join together Voltron-style into one MechaSteve, striding across the earth like a colossus, spitting out 14 projects a year, and grinding enemies into powder. God help us if Steve Jobs is added to the MechaSteve behemoth.