Stephen King’s New Adaptation Upgraded To Theatrical Release

The Boogeyman, originally scheduled for a streaming debut on Hulu, will instead have a theatrical release first.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

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Stephen King has seen more of his stories adapted to movies and television than most authors, ranging from major theatrical releases such as The Shining to small screen releases like that ‘90s It television miniseries that scarred so many of us for life. Now, Stephen King’s latest work that has been adapted into a film is The Boogeyman, and it was originally slated to release only on Hulu (these days, streaming is the new “direct to television”). However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the movie ended up being such a big hit with both audiences and Stephen King himself that it is now being upgraded to a theatrical release.

Obviously, there is nothing wrong with releasing movies to streaming, and Hulu has been the home to some fine horror features in the last year, including incredible movies like Prey and Hellraiser. However, there is still a certain cultural cachet that comes from a theatrical release, and going out to see a movie with friends can be a much more fulfilling experience than just streaming it by yourself. Studios must ultimately calculate whether a theatrical release will be financially viable, and based on its strong December test screening, 20th Century Studios is confident that Stephen King’s The Boogeyman will reliably put butts into seats when it releases this summer.

Part of the reason the studio is so confident aside from the test screening is that horror has proven to be a reliable generator of theatrical profits since the onset of the pandemic. In fact, horror has been the only genre to rival superhero films when it comes to getting major theatrical audiences. And since horror films are much cheaper to produce than superhero films, it’s easier to take a chance on adaptations of Stephen King works such as The Boogeyman.

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Night Shift by Stephen King – the 1978 book of short stories in which “The Boogeyman” was collected

Most recently, the runaway success of the horror comedy M3GAN has proven how much audiences want to gather in a darkened theater and get creeped out. Before that, The Barbarian was made for under $10 million and ended up grossing $40 million. The studio is surely hoping that Stephen King’s The Boogeyman will be just as profitable or even more so, which is exactly what happened with Smile.

The closest analog for what has happened with this King adaptation is the horror film Smile, created by Parker Finn. That movie was made for a release on Paramount+ but, after a strong test screening, was released to theaters, earning back $216 million on its modest $17 million budget.

What do we know about Stephen King’s The Boogeyman so far? It will be an adaptation of one of the stories King wrote, which was later included in his anthology Night Shift, and it follows the struggles of children mourning the death of their mother even as their psychologist father wards off a desperate patient and then contends with an angry supernatural force. The movie is directed by Rob Savage and was shot last year in New Orleans, but we somehow don’t think the good times will roll when this film releases in theaters on June 2.