Earlier this year Stephen King fans were blessed with an awesome piece of news. After teasing in late 2019 that he was developing an adaptation to follow-up Gerald's Game and Doctor Sleep, Mike Flanagan was officially revealed to be working on a big screen version of Revival – one of the best books in King's bibliography. Constant Readers have spent the last seven months imagining what the project could be, but now we are saddened to report the news that the movie isn't moving forward.
Mike Flanagan was recently a guest on the podcast The Company Of The Mad, and it was while talking with Josh Boone (co-creator and executive producer on the new The Stand miniseries on CBS All Access) that the writer/director let slip that his version of Revival is dead. The news came up organically, as it was a part of a story Flanagan was telling about the first time that he had the chance to communicate with Boone:
We started emailing because I went on to eBay to buy a limited edition of Revival – a beautiful set of Revival, and Josh was selling it. I bought it, and he emailed me on eBay first when the transaction first started, like, 'Uhhh, hi.' 'Oh my god!' And so we got to go back and forth about Revival, being a project that Josh was doing first and then I also ended up not doing Revival. So we have that in common; we've both been through the ringer on that particular story.
First published in 2014, Revival tells the story of Jamie Morton and his nearly lifelong relationship with a man named Charles Jacobs – who begins the novel as the minister at Jamie's local church. When Jacobs is struck by horrible tragedy, his life changes forever, and it leaves an indelible imprint on the protagonist. As Jamie grows up, dealing with issues all his own, he finds himself encountering his old minister multiple times, and each time they connect he learns more about strange experiments that Jacobs conducts that are fueled by an obsession with electricity.
The story begins in 1962, but it spans multiple decades, and features a mind-splitting finale that will shock even the most hardcore Stephen King fans. Unfortunately, properly translating it for the big screen is something that requires a lot of money, and that's the prime reason why Mike Flanagan's goal to make a Revival movie ended up flatlining.
Discussing his own time trying to adapt the book, Josh Boone mentioned that he had stars interested in being a part of the production, but while figuring out the logistics he discovered that the project would require too big a budget to be made properly in modern Hollywood. As it turns out, this was the exact same issue that Mike Flanagan discovered during his own behind-the-scenes journey with the material. Said the filmmakers,
Josh Boone: I had amazing talent interested in doing it, but I found it to be far too expensive than I was able to generate and do justice to King's book without really, really having to change everything, which I didn't want to do.
Mike Flanagan: I stepped on the exact same landmine, and ended up in the exact same place... We should get together some day and share boards, and drafts, and scars. I kind of hit the same wall with it where it was just so expensive. Man, did I love it, though.
Fortunately, Josh Boone didn't just leave that tease hanging there, as he actually namedropped one of the stars he had lined up. Boone added,
I had Samuel L. Jackson wanting to play Jacobs. I couldn't have thought of a cooler way to go. And it was like, 'We can give you this much,' and it's like, 'I need like $25 million more than that.'... The beauty of that book comes from the how long of a time period it takes place over, and to do that with two actors is a huge challenge.
Samuel L. Jackson would have been a fascinating pick to play Charles Jacobs. Not only does he possess the emotional power needed for that particular part, but Josh Boone seems to suggest that his version would have had the same actors play the two leads throughout the film, and Jackson is an actor who very recently participated in a blockbuster where de-aging movie magic was a massive part of the equation. That being said, Captain Marvel had a way bigger budget than any adaptation of Revival could ever have, so it's not overly surprising that approach didn't work out.
If you haven't read Revival, you absolutely should – despite the fact that it may be a minute before we get to see a big screen version of it get made. Also on the bright side, there are a number of Stephen King adaptations that are currently in the works, and you can find a rundown of all of them right here. As for Mike Flanagan, we'll just keep our fingers crossed that one day somebody hands him the keys to The Dark Tower.