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Warning: while the marketing campaign for Pet Sematary gives away the big change in the film’s plot, some audience members may have avoided the trailers for this very reason. If you’re one of those people, come back to this story after you’ve seen the film, as we’re about to discuss that change in depth.
Adaptations can be an author’s worst nightmare, as sometimes changes to the source material might make a film feel more cinematic, but betray the original vision of what inspired the film in the first place. No one knows this better than bestselling author Stephen King, who not only has had a tremendous amount of his works adapted for film and television, but isn’t particularly shy about whether or not he approves of the changes made. So seeing him give an official OK to Ellie Creed switching places with Gage as the child who dies to kick off the story’s later plot developments seems to fit with the author’s overall approval of the film in general.
In an email response to an inquiry towards this point, King provided the following remarks as to how he felt about the overall alteration of Gage and Ellie’s fates:
I thought the change was OK. Both versions — the old one, where Gage dies, and the new one, where Ellie dies — result in the same chain of events. I don’t necessarily think one version of the story is better, but I’m sure the directors found it easier to work with a girl zombie than with a toddler zombie.
Stephen King’s acceptance of the change isn’t a total surprise, as actor Jason Clarke had previously signaled that the author was OK with making Ellie the victim of that infamous Orinco tanker truck. In his explanation, Clarke noted that a supporting reason for the change to Pet Sematary’s crucial fatality was the obvious issue of Gage’s younger age not exactly being the best choice for a cinematic villain. Sure enough, that reasoning seemed to pan out when Stephen King himself was contacted by The New York Times to discuss the big change to the 2019 adaptation’s narrative.
The decision certainly hasn’t dampened King’s response to the Pet Sematary remake, as the author loved the film so much, he dropped some pretty colorful language stating as much. For those of you who are worried this is an exercise in diplomacy, designed to play ball until the film’s initial release has passed, let’s not forget Stephen King’s response to The Dark Tower’s release. While he was initially diplomatic about the film’s decisions pertaining to approaching his legendary series, King did eventually point out the obvious flaws in that would-be franchise’s launch.
At this moment though, it looks like Stephen King not only enjoys Pet Sematary’s modern revamp, but that his excitement comes even after a pretty big change was made to his original story. With that stamp of approval now affixed to the film, it might have the potential to boost its standings during its second weekend of release, which in turn might only help bring more of the author’s work to the big screen.
Pet Sematary is currently in theaters, and if this change intrigues you, just wait until you see how it effects the overall third act of the film. And if you’re wondering what other Stephen King adaptations are heading to theaters in the future, we’ve got you covered with a release date rundown of our own devising.