Is there a universe name for Stephen King? Like the KingVerse? King Cinematic Universe? Or maybe just… Maine? Well if it has a name, then whatever that name is, it’s getting bigger. Amid a growing list of recently revealed King adaptations in the works, a trailer has dropped for the Firestarter remake. Zac Efron stars as Andy McGee, the father of Charlie (Ryan Kiera Armstrong) — the young girl with pyrokinetic powers who everyone is so afraid of.
The trailer dropped on Wednesday, and in it we see the McGee family on the run. Assuming the film follows the story of the book closely enough, Andy and his wife Vicky (Sydney Lemmon) developed relatively minor psychic abilities as a result of experiments they were a part of in college. Charlie’s pyrokinetic or “firestarting” abilities are a byproduct of that union and when The Shop — the clandestine organization that conducted the experiments — find out about her, the McGees go on the run. You can see the trailer below.
It seems like for this new version of Firestarter, the filmmakers are taking advantage of the popularity of superheroes to frame Charlie as a kind of Brightburn-esque character. We hear a voice refer to her as a “real life superhero” and “the first of her kind,” bringing to mind the hounded mutants of Marvel’s X-Men. But as we see as the trailer progresses, like the the young boy in Brightburn, Charlie’s experiences forces her to access parts of her persona that the likes of Professor X wouldn’t be very happy about, and Zac Efron’s Andy McGee doesn’t look too thrilled about it either.
Published in 1980, Firestarter was one of Stephen King’s first novels to hit bookstores. It was adapted into a film in 1984 with a young Drew Barrymore playing the troubled young Charlie — Barrymore’s very first role after millions were introduced to her in E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. David Keith (Paper Empire) played Zac Efron’s current role as Andy McGee, while Heather Locklear (Melrose Place) played Charlie’s mother. Made during a time when there was a lot less concern in the entertainment industry of accurately matching actors of color with characters of color, the Oscar-winning George C. Scott (Patton) played John Rainbird, the Native American assassin on the McGees’ trail.
As much as it always seems fashionable to trash remakes and reboots, there’s one guy who is probably very happy to see a new version of Firestarter — the guy who wrote it. Stephen King was not happy at all with the original adaptation and he wasn’t alone. The film has an embarrassing 37% critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes, and the audience score of 53% isn’t much better. So complain about “another reboot” all you want: we’re guessing King is thrilled with Zac Efron and everyone else involved.
As the trailer announces, Firestarter is due to blast into theaters on Friday, May 13. It will also be available for streaming to Peacock subscribers on that day. Along with the actors already mentioned, the film stars Gloria Reuben (Lincoln), Michael Greyeyes (Wild Indian), and Kurtwood Smith (That ’70s Show). Firestarter is directed by Keith Thomas (The Vigil) from a script by Scott Teems (Halloween Kills).