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Stephen King Regains Control of His Stories

Yesterday, we relayed to you the increasingly odd shenanigans surrounding the film rights to the Children of the Corn franchise. In the middle of the still-going battle over their ownership, author Stephen King finally stepped forward and terminated transfer rights to the property.  From September 1st, 2018 onward, no one will be allowed to make another Children of the Corn adaptation without re-licensing the property from him. Well, it seems that this move on King’s part didn’t end with Children of the Corn. It also extends to multiple other properties.

So what else had made the cut? According to Zerner Law*, King’s motion also includes the rights to The Dead Zone, Creepshow, Cujo, Firestarter, and Cat’s Eye. In most cases, this isn’t messing with anything currently on the way. The Dead Zone, which was adapted in 1983 by David Cronenberg, hasn’t had anything done with it since USA’s TV series adaptation went off the air in 2007. Neither Cat’s Eye nor its stories have been messed with since 1985.

Creepshow remains a George A. Romero classic to this day and its initial 1987 follow-up is fairly solid. Those fiends over at Taurus Entertainment unfortunately ended up with the rights over a decade ago and crapped out the horrendous Creepshow 3 in 2006. This should prevent them from doing that again, so bravo King!

A Cujo remake was actually announced two years ago, although nothing seems to have come of it. Thank goodness, as the announced title as C.U.J.O.. What does that stand for? I’m glad you asked. It apparently means “Canine Unit Joint Operations”. A killer robo-dog, basically, which means it would have had little to do with King’s novel. It always sounded more to me like the producers would rather be remaking the 1993 Lance Henriksen-starrer, Man’s Best Friend (pictured below). This legal action will likely take this redo out behind the shed and put it down. Good riddance.

That leaves Firestarter. Initially adapted in 1984 by Mark L. Lester (Commando, Class of 1984), a TV miniseries sequel followed in 2002. Since Firestarter: Rekindled failed to actually rekindle it as a property, the rights collected dust until earlier this year. Universal and Blumhouse announced only 4 ago that Akiva Goldsman had been hired to direct a new adaptation of the project. Of all the ones on this list, this seems most likely to come together before that September 1st, 2018 deadline. And even if it doesn’t? Well, Goldsman presumably has a decent relationship with King, so he’ll probably still get to make it anyway.

Bottom line? This is a good thing. It’s King regaining control of a large chunk of his film rights that are still floating out in the ether. Ever the film fan, he is unlikely to simply sit on them. I have little doubt that he will license them out to others whom he trusts within the next few years. That doesn’t mean we’ll end up with better films, but it does mean that he will be able to exert some sort of control over these properties going forward. I’m good with that and you should be too.

* – As in Larry “star of Friday the 13th Part 3” Zerner. How cool is that?

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