Stephen King And Steven Spielberg Almost Did Poltergeist Together, Here's What Happened


Stephen King and Steven Spielberg are a pair of iconic creators who both came to prominence around the same time. It seems insane the pair have never worked together. Yet, they almost did. The two recently revealed that back in the early 1980s when Steven Spielberg was producing, and possibly also directing, Poltergeist, he wanted Stephen King's help punching up the horror script. Unfortunately, time was of the essence, and, as this was 1982, communication wasn't always as easy as it is now, and the author was completely inaccessible. As the pair explained...

King: It didn't work out because it was before the internet and we had a communication breakdown.Spielberg: Yeah, I wanted him to help me out with the script and sort of write it with me, but he was unavailable.

As Stephen King explains further to Entertainment Weekly, he was on a ship crossing to England, and so was somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean when Steven Spielberg was trying to reach him. By the time King had arrived at his destination and received the message the director was trying to get in touch with him, Spielberg had already moved on.

It's amazing that something as small as the lack of access to a phone is what kept Steven Spielberg and Stephen King from working together. If this were happening today there would be a half dozen different ways to get a hold of somebody, and while internet access in the middle of the ocean is usually not cheap, it's certainly an option. While there are many downsides to people being in perpetual contact, it does allow for nearly instant collaboration between people all over the world. Even if King had been free to work in London at the time, it would have been difficult for the pair to really collaborate across the world like that in 1982.

Poltergeist still ended up as a solid and well-regarded horror movie, so it looks like Stephen King's help wasn't strictly necessary. Still, it certainly makes one wonder what King would have done with the script.

Since 1982 the pair has not found anything else to work on together, which seems nuts. You'd think that if the two of them were that into working together they would have found something by now. For what it's worth, Steven Spielberg has said that he's very interested in turning The Talisman, King's novel co-written with Peter Straub, into a movie, and has even said he thinks that it could happen in the next couple of years, so perhaps this pairing that seems so obvious will finally happen, only 40 or so years late.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.