If you throw a rock out into the future pop culture zeitgest – not a Castle Rock, but just a regular rock – you're going to hit a large handful of Stephen King TV and movie adaptations that are currently in various stages of production. From projects whose releases are imminent, such as The Stand's new miniseries on the rebranded Paramount+ streaming service, to projects that are still off in the distance, King is going to be everywhere again in the coming years. However, it looks like the highly anticipated Eyes of the Dragon TV series isn't happening anymore, at least not yet.
Back in May 2019, it was announced that Hulu had won out a rights battle to adapt the '80s novel Eyes of the Dragon, which is essentially Stephen King's only major fantasy work outside of the lengthy Dark Tower series. With Fox 21 on tap as the studio, Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter author and Lego Batman co-screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith was on board to pen the pilot and serve as showrunner. Unfortunately, Grahame-Smith revealed to The Kingcast that Hulu decided not to move forward with the Eyes of the Dragon series. Here's how he explained the bad news:
There was a regime change at the worst possible moment at Hulu. When regime changes happen, the incoming people – as great as they are – take a look around and don't necessarily want to inherit the projects of the people who just got replaced. In our case, I think we had a lot of goodwill at Hulu, because people were really excited about the script, and they had had some success with Castle Rock, and this was kind of perfect building off of that. And it was so expensive, guys. Basically to do this show the way that we were pitching it was gonna be upwards of $100 million a season or something like that. Because it's a Stephen King property, the deal that we had with Hulu was they couldn't just order a pilot and then decide. They had to either order a whole season and spend that $90-$100 million or whatever it was, or pass. So, you know, they passed. [Laughs.]
First, it's interesting to note that there was a specific stipulation that Hulu couldn't just dip its toes in the water with a pilot order, and that it was all or nothing. Second, it's wild to think about a Stephen King TV show getting the kind of budget that usually gets reserved for high-profile Netflix series. But it was apparently that mega-budget that caused Hulu to balk at bringing Eyes of the Dragon to life.
Understandably, Seth Grahame-Smith was bummed to get that news back. Here's how he explained his reaction:
And look, from a financial standpoint, I certainly don't blame them; it's a big bet. But I was so crushed because I had gotten so excited about the idea of making the show, because I really thought that it was going to be something so different in the 'Stephen King adaptation' world. Maybe that means it would have been different in a bad way, but I guarantee you it would have been different, and it would have been something that me and my kids would have sat down and watched. This sort of darker, weirder fucked-up Game of Thrones, minus the nakedness, for the whole family to enjoy together.
Seth Grahame-Smith also revealed that the goal was to get the great Sam Rockwell involved to star as the powerful wizard Flagg, although the name probably would have changed, since Sony Pictures owns the "Randall Flagg" moniker through its Dark Tower rights. Still, that casting would have been pitch-perfect. Can we get Rockwell in all the Stephen King adaptations?
While the plot isn't exactly easy to sum up, Eyes of the Dragon centers partly on Flagg, the devious magician to King Roland. (Those names are no doubt familiar to Dark Tower fans.) Once the queen becomes pregnant with a second son and brother to future king Peter, Flagg puts a plan in place to eliminate the throne's heir and manipulate the younger brother in a lengthy attempt to gain control of the kingdom. It definitely would have been wild to see it all come together, considering how lofty and effects-heavy it would have been.
Unlike just about everything else in Stephen King's massive bibliography, Eyes of the Dragon was a purposeful diversion from the horror genre. The whole point was to write something that could be read by his then-young children, such as current horror authors Owen King and Locke & Key writer Joe Hill. Though it has amassed its own sizable fandom over the years, critics and fans were initially not so pumped about the change in direction, and the backlash against it inspired King to go on to write Misery, so it was worth it for everyone.
While Eyes of the Dragon isn't happening at Hulu anymore, it's certainly possible that another streaming service or linear network could step up and bring it to life. Apple TV+ was reportedly in the bidding war against Hulu at the time, so maybe someone there is interested in footing the bill for it. Seth Grahame-Smith said it may get resurrected for a feature, or as a miniseries somewhere, but for right now, it's floating with Pennywise's victims.
Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more information on any possible Eyes of the Dragon adaptations, and be sure to bookmark our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule to see what new and returning shows are on the way soon.