Given that Stephen King is one of the most popular and prolific authors of the modern era, there never seems to be much time between news of developing adaptations. At the time that I am writing this, there are literally dozens in the works, both for the big screen and the small, and even as new movies and shows are released it seems like the list of upcoming projects only ever grows bigger. For example, just last week we learned that writer/director Edgar Wright is doing a remake of The Running Man that will hone closer to the source material than the 1987 feature, and now we can exclusively report that a film version of the 2018 book Elevation is in the works as well.
Jack Bender is a filmmaker with plenty of experience when it comes to Stephen King adaptations, having credits on shows including Under The Dome, Mr. Mercedes, and The Outsider, and he is currently not only developing a miniseries version of the 2019 novel The Institute, but is also working on making Elevation into a feature. With Mr. Mercedes Season 3 set to arrive on Peacock at the start of next month, I spoke with the writer/director earlier this week, and it was while discussing the process of making changes to King’s work that he brought up the project. Said Bender,
He is very generous about that when it works. I've recently adapted a book of his called Elevation, which we're going to make into a film. And I invented some stuff and added, and was nervous because he'd never read anything I've written, only directed and produced. And needless to say I was nervous about it, but he loved it. He's very gracious, and he knows that when we make a TV show, there's going to be stuff added stuff taken away; that's just the way it goes.
What makes Elevation such an interesting book in this particular context is that it is actually one of the shortest that Stephen King has written. The author is famous for crafting substantial tomes that are regularly between 500 and 600 pages, but his 2018 novel (which is really more of a novella, despite what it says on the cover) is less than 150. As such, a feature adaptation will have to expand the material, but there’s a fantastic foundation for Jack Bender to build on.
Set in the fictional Castle Rock, Maine (the same setting as The Dead Zone, Cujo, Needful Things, and more), Elevation tells the story of Scott Carey, a man with a mysterious problem: no matter what he does, he continues to lose weight – and what only makes the condition more bizarre is that not even heavy clothes seem to impact the scales. And as though being a medical oddity weren’t enough, he finds himself embroiled in a controversy involving his next door neighbors, a lesbian couple trying to keep their restaurant in town afloat, but find their efforts impeded by bigots.
While Jack Bender didn’t want to spill too many details about his feature adaptation, he did explain why it was a project that he was attracted to – specifically highlighting its brand of societal optimism and its inherent King-ness. Said the filmmaker,
I always saw it as adapting the book because it's a fable, and it's very out of Stephen King's box of horror, et cetera. It's really about how we can all be better people. And it's a wonderful story. It's one of those little gems, and I felt that from when I first read it.
With the script for Elevation already getting the Stephen King stamp of approval, hopefully it won’t be too long before we see the film head deeper into development and then production. In the more immediate future, however, if you consider yourself a King fan then Mr. Mercedes is an absolute must-see, and Peacock subscribers will be able to catch the whole thing on the streaming service when Season 3 drops on March 4.