Having spent nearly a half-century watching his novels and short stories turned into films, miniseries, and television shows, Stephen King doesn’t have a reputation for sugar-coating his opinions when it comes to adaptations of his work. He’ll proudly announce his support of any project he likes (for example, the series based on his Mr. Mercedes trilogy), but he’s also not afraid to express dissatisfaction (for example, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and Children Of The Corn). Naturally, getting his approval can mean a lot, which is why it’s exciting to learn that King has thus far liked what he has seen from the developing remake of Firestarter starring Zac Efron.
The upcoming movie, directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil), is now filming, and this week I got an exciting update about its development from producer Jason Blum – who is currently promoting the forthcoming release of The Forever Purge. His company, Blumhouse Productions, is looking to become a big name in Stephen King adaptations in the coming years, as they are also developing a remake of Christine and a feature version of Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, and it was while discussing Firestarter that he talked about consulting the author about the remake. Said Blum,
Firestarter, you know, (laughs) it’s a better book than a movie all those years ago, but it was just such, such a great idea, and it's something I've always wanted to do. And I wouldn't want to do it unless, same thing [as The Purge and James DeMonaco], unless – by the way, we couldn't do it unless – Stephen King was okay with it. But he gave us our blessing, and that gave me the confidence to think, 'Well, let's give this a shot.' So I hope he likes it. He liked the script, so hopefully he'll like the movie.
First published in 1980, Firestarter was originally adapted by director Mark L. Lester in 1984, and while the movie is an extremely faithful translation of the book that features an outstanding cast (including Drew Barrymore, Martin Sheen, George C. Scott, Art Carney, and Louise Fletcher), it doesn’t quite pack the punch and energy that it should. Blumhouse has been developing the remake since 2017, but it has really been in the last year that the film has found traction and made huge leaps forward.
Scott Teems, who co-wrote the screenplay for Blumhouse’s upcoming Halloween Kills, has penned the script that got Stephen King’s seal of approval. Zac Efron and Ryan Kiera Armstrong star as Andy and Charlie McGee – a father and daughter with psychic abilities who go on the run from a government agency known as The Shop. Leading the search is a psychopathic mercenary named John Rainbird (Michael Greyeyes), who is employed by The Shop, but has his own plans for the young girl.
Universal Pictures is set to release the film theatrically, but the studio has not yet announced a release date. To get all of the latest updates about all of the adaptations that are currently in the works, be sure to check out our Upcoming Stephen King guide, and check out my Adapting Stephen King column for weekly deep dives into King’s history on the big and small screens.