Salem’s Lot: What We Know About The Stephen King Movie Adaptation So Far

The vampire from Salem's Lot
(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

We seem to be experiencing something of a renaissance for Stephen King movies – and, by that, I mean many older films (or TV specials) inspired by the best-selling author’s work are being revived and reimagined for a modern audience. One of the many new Stephen King adaptations that is currently in the works is a theatrical version of Salem’s Lot.

The upcoming horror movie is based on the 1975 novel set in a small town in Maine (as per tradition for King stories), which serves as the author’s own most popular contribution to vampire lore. Fans have been keeping a close eye on all the major updates surrounding this new take on Salem and we have compiled them all in one place below, starting with when a good time to grab a crucifix, a wooden stake, and some garlic would be.

What Is The Salem’s Lot Release Date?

The vampire from Salem's Lot

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The biggest mystery surrounding Salem’s Lot right now is when the film is going to come out as it does not have a release date at the moment. It was previously on our upcoming 2023 movies schedule and set for that April until it was removed from the schedule and Warner Bros. gave its slot to Evil Dead Rise. A new release date still has yet to be announced.

Some argue that the best time for a horror movie to come out is during the Halloween season in October. However, at this point, horror fans probably have no preference of what time of the year Salem’s Lot comes out as long as they get to see it.

Lewis Pullman Leads The New Salem’s Lot Cast

Lewis Pullman's Bob flying in fighter plane in Top Gun: Maverick

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Leading the Salem’s Lot cast is Top Gun: Maverick star Lewis Pullman (son of Bill Pullman) as Ben Mears. A Stephen King movie veteran also slated to appear is William Sadler (known for playing Heywood from The Shawshank Redemption in 1994, Klaus Detterick in 1999’s The Green Mile, and Jim in the devastating 2007 creature feature, The Mist – all from Frank Darabont), whose role in this new film is currently undisclosed. 

Additional supporting players include Mackenzie Leigh (of Gotham cast fame) as Ben’s love interest, Susan Norton, The Queen’s Gambit cast member Bill Camp as school teacher Matthew Burke (one of Ben’s most trusted allies against the vampire invasion), and Glass star Spencer Treat Clark as Mike Ryerson (a victim of the vampire invasion). Salem’s Lot character Richard Straker is the latest villain played by former Game of Thrones cast member Pilou Asbæk, Tony nominee John Benjamin Hickey stars as Father Donald Callahan, and playing a gender-swapped version of Dr. Cody is Academy Award nominee Alfre Woodard in her second collaboration with the film’s director.

Salem’s Lot Is A Modern Vampire Tale

Ralphie Glick in Salem's Lot 1979

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

The Stephen King multiverse is full of vampires, such as the nocturnal creatures a fan may find in short stories like “The Night Flier” – which inspired a mean made-for-TV creature feature in 1997 – and his series of Dark Tower novels, among others. However, the most famous bloodsucker of the author’s creation must be Kurt Barlow, who is the centuries-old antagonist of Salem’s Lot.

The novel (King’s second) gets its title from the shortened name of the town where it is set, Jerusalem’s Lot – the childhood home of writer Ben Mears. When he returns to the Maine community to research his next book, it becomes apparent that many of the locals are either disappearing, dying, or simply acting strangely. Upon further investigation, Ben starts to suspect this suspicious activity is the work of a creature of the night.

CinemaCon 2022 Showed An Exclusive Sneak Peek Of Salem’s Lot

Kurt Barlow in Salem's Lot 1979

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

At the moment, we have no Salem’s Lot trailer to mention – let alone any official promotional material related to the film to comment on (unless you count the movie tie-in reissue of the novel that hit bookstores in 2022). However, the crowds at CinemaCon from April of that year were exclusively treated to some early footage of the project that teased key moments from the novel, such as an introductory scene depicting Mike Ryerson succumbing to the vampire plague.

The clip has still not been made available to the general public, but curious fans may be happy to know that the sneak peek has received positive responses online, such as from Variety’s Rebecca Rubin with an X post that called out her colleague, Matt Donnelly, for screaming loudly at the scary sights. It even piqued the curiosity of Flick Direct’s X account manager, despite, as they state, Salem’s Lot not even being their favorite King property. 

IT Writer Gary Dauberman Wrote And DirectedSalem’s Lot

It the dancing clown in IT Chapter One.

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

A story as complex, as widely celebrated, and (most importantly) as terrifying as Salem’s Lot deserves to be put in the care of someone with plenty of experience in that business. Well, the one whom New Line Cinema put in charge is certainly no stranger to the horror genre and is clearly a Stephen King fan.

Salem’s Lot is both written and directed by Gary Dauberman, who is also known for writing both halves of Andy Muschietti’s theatrical IT adaptation and developing the short-lived, but much-loved Swamp Thing TV show. He made his directorial debut with Annabelle Comes Home in 2018 after penning the first two installments of the possessed doll’s own trilogy of spin-off movies and The Nun, making him a key component of the Conjuring movies Universe. Speaking of, the one who started that franchise is also joining Dauberman for this project. 

James Wan Produced Salem’s Lot

Joseph Bishara and Ty Simpkins in Insidious, directed by James Wan

(Image credit: FilmDistrict)

Simply putting James Wan’s name on a poster is a good way to sell tickets these days, but that does not exclusively apply to horror movies anymore. The filmmaker, known for creepy modern classics like the first of the Saw movies or 2011’s Insidious, would also break into action flicks in 2015 with Furious 7 and is currently preparing a sequel to his comic book movie debut with the upcoming superhero movie, Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. However, 2021’s Malignant showed he has not left his flagship genre behind and his involvement in this new Stephen King movie is further proof.

In April 2019, almost exactly a year before Dauberman was confirmed to be at the helm, Wan’s involvement with Salem’s Lot was officially announced. The director of The Conjuring and its 2016 sequel shares a producing credit on the film with Dauberman and others, but it will not be the last King adaptation Wan is attached to. He will also produce The Tommyknockers, which is yet another theatrical update of a miniseries based on one of the author’s novels.

Salem’s Lot Wrapped Production In 2021, But Is Currently Delayed

Father Callahan in Salem's Lot 1979

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

As we established above, we are still not sure when Salem’s Lot is set to come out. As of 2023, the horror film’s highly anticipated theatrical release is still on a delay, which brings up the questions of what is keeping it from seeing the light of day.

Star Mackenzie Leigh confirmed in an Instagram post that principal photography had wrapped in November 2021. The next year, the aforementioned CinemaCon footage debuted and, the following fall, the film received an R rating from the MPA. Considering all that we already do know about its production status, hopefully we can expect a  2024 movie release… or perhaps access with a Max subscription?

Salem’s Lot Is The Latest Of Several Movies And TV Shows Inspired By Stephen King’s Novel

Rob Lowe in Salem's Lot 2004

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Television)

Salem’s Lot follows in the footsteps of the It movies as a feature-length adaptation of the author’s work that was previously made for television as a limited series. However, the original two-part event directed by Tobe Hooper (creator of one of the best horror movies of all time, The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) is not the only time this vampire story came to the small screen.

The 1979 miniseries spawned a feature-length sequel called A Return to Salem’s Lot in 1987 and a remake starring Rob Lowe that aired over two nights on TNT in 2004. While the plot of Salem’s Lot has nothing to do with the Hulu original series, Castle Rock, Jerusalem’s Lot was a prominent setting of its second season. King later wrote a short, 19th-Century-set prequel called “Jerusalem’s Lot,” that serves as the basis of Adrien Brody-led series, Chapelwaite, on Epix.

How might this new adaptation of Salem’s Lot compare to its previous interpretations and other recent Stephen King films? Don’t lose sleep over that question, as there will surely be more for us to sink our teeth into as we wait for the film to open.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.