Adapting a Stephen King novel can be quite the undertaking. Although King has a rather large bibliography, there are only a small handful of successful film adaptations taken from the author’s original source material. While his short stories have seen success on the big screen, it seems like the longer the book, the harder it is to adapt. With 1,168 pages, The Stand is the longest novel from Stephen King, so needless to say, it’s going to be hard to pack everything from the book into one digestible movie.
In 1994, a TV mini-series of The Stand saw success on the small screen, but trying to adapt the book to the big screen has seen some challenges over the years. In 2011, Warner Bros tapped Ben Affleck to adapt The Stand for the big screen, after the actor-turned-director saw success from his film The Town. While Affleck opted to direct the Academy Award-winning film Argo as his next project in 2012 and has taken a role as Batman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel sequel, Batman vs. Superman, Ben Affleck has since dropped off the project, as Warner Bros handed the keys over to director Scott Cooper.
After releasing the film Out of the Furnace for Relativity Media, Scott Cooper also decided to walk away from The Stand movie project over creative differences with the studio. In an interview with Collider.com, the 44-year-old director discussed why he dropped out of the project and why The Stand is more suitable for multiple movies rather than just one. He compared the film adaptation to Peter Jackson’s first tour of duty in Middle Earth with Lord of the Rings. Cooper explained:
“Yeah, I’ve moved on. It was a great process of connecting with Mr. [Stephen] King. It’s a great piece, but it’s a tough story to crack in one telling. It really should probably be told not unlike The Lord of the Rings, so you could really do justice to such a great piece of material. He’s a great guy and so supportive, but if you’re going to take something on like that, you want to make sure you get it right.”
The Stand takes place in a post-apocalyptic America after a virus wipes out a majority of the country’s population. The survivors descend into a battle of good vs evil, while its story is sprawling with dozens of characters and plot lines that crisscross and overlap throughout. It would be hard to see The Stand in one movie or even a film trilogy. If The Stand manages to make it to the big screen, it might have to be a trilogy of trilogies.
Scott Cooper directed Jeff Bridges to an Academy Award for Best Actor in the movie Crazy Heart in 2009. Out of the Furnace was the director’s follow up with actors Christian Bale and Woody Harrelson. Cooper’s next film is the crime biopic Black Mass, which follows the life of Boston mob boss James Joseph “Whitey” Bulger.
It seems like The Stand is in limbo at Warner Bros. Before Ben Affleck was attached to the film adaptation, director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves were in contention for the job. Yates and Kloves worked on the last four Harry Potter movies together, but the pair left the project over creative differences with Warner Bros.