Stephen King Had A Part To Play In Moving The Boogeyman Movie From Hulu To Theaters

 David Dastmalchian in The Boogeyman
(Image credit: 20th Century Studios)

Earlier this year, director Rob Savage's upcoming adaptation of Stephen King's The Boogeyman got some terrific news. While the film went into production with plans in place for it to be an exclusive for Hulu, it was widely reported in January that the distribution strategy had changed and that the movie was going to get a theatrical run. It was said at the time that the move was made in reaction to positive test screenings and the current big screen horror boom – but it turns out that the author of the source material also had a role to play in the decision.

With filmmakers Scott Beck and Bryan Woods on the ReelBlend podcast this week promoting their new film 65, the hosts took the opportunity to ask about their work on The Boogeyman (on which they are credited as screenwriters and producers). CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell inquired about what happened behind the scenes that moved the movie from streaming to theaters, and Woods broke it down from the beginning. He explained, 

We love the experience of going to the theater, and so when we first wrote Boogeyman, it was intended as a theatrical movie. And then of course the merger happened with Disney buying Fox and it went through all this stuff, and then, when they green lit the movie, it was clear 'this is going to Hulu,' and we all had to like sign an addendum to our contract to make that happen. And it was kind of disappointing 'cause we were like, 'Man, horror is so fun. You'd love to see it with an audience and watch people.'

As Woods continued, he explained how both test screening audiences and Stephen King forced executives at 20th Century Studios to rethink the decision to make The Boogeyman a Hulu exclusive: 

They started screening the movie once it was finished and it really started playing through the roof, and it really played the audience like a piano. And it was also Stephen King himself who was kind of like advocating behind the scenes and basically saying like, 'My feedback on the film is I don't understand why it's not in movie theaters.' And so thank goodness 20th [Century Studios] turned around and decided to put out theaters.

Having spent the last half century seeing adaptations of his work going to both the big screen and the small screen, Stephen King is a voice worth listening to when it comes to properly scaring an audience, and thankfully The Boogeyman will be getting the opportunity to freak out big crowds this summer.

Not only has King been advocating for the film behind the scenes, he's been doing it in public as well – posting about the movie in advance of its trailer drop back in late January. And speaking of which, you can watch the Boogeyman first look below:

Watching that trailer, you may have noticed the familiar face of David Dastmalchian, who has a key role to play in the movie. The adaptation of The Boogeyman appears to stray pretty far from Stephen King's short story, but Dastmalchian's character is what directly links the two together: the actor is playing Lester Billings, the protagonist of the source material.

Scott Beck spoke with ReelBlend about the process of adapting the Stephen King short story, noting that there really isn't enough in what King originally wrote to fit a feature film. Said Beck,

I'll talk about it from the challenge of even adapting the short story, because it is a short story. It's like 11 or 12 pages long, and it takes place in a psychiatrist's office where a man, Lester Billings, walks in and he, you know, basically is saying, 'The Boogeyman killed all three of my children.' And the fun of this project was using that as a launching point, and then creating a story from whole cloth but that still would be the voice of Stephen King because it is Stephen King's The Boogeyman.

Rather than being about the plight of Lester Billings, The Boogeyman movie will primarily focus on his psychiatrist, played by Chris Messina, and the psychiatrist's two daughters, played by Sophie Thatcher and Vivien Lyra Blair. All that being said, Scott Beck emphasized that Lester still has an important role to play. Said the filmmaker,

David is in the movie playing the part of Lester Billings, which to us is a chilling character. It's a chilling portrayal that is that he lends so much weight and authenticity to. He's one of our favorite actors. I feel like people see him primarily as a character actor, but as far as I'm concerned, he could be a leading man as well. His versatility as far as I know, knows no bounds.

There is still a lot about The Boogeyman that is being maintained as a mystery, and that definitely only has us more excited for the film's theatrical release. Look for the movie in cinemas near you on June 2.

Check out our Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV guide to learn about all of the projects based on King's works that are in development, and read my Adapting Stephen King column to learn about the extensive history of King adaptations, going back to Carrie in 1976.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.