Stephen King’s Cinematic Universe: The Stars Are Aligning

For a long time, many a hardcore Stephen King fan has dreamed about Stephen King’s world getting its own extended cinematic universe like Marvel and DC comics have. Now, as attested by horror news authorities like Den of Geek and, more recently, Bloody Disgusting, it seems like it might actually happen. Even since then, new reasons have emerged that make an upcoming Stephen King cinematic universe seem more and more likely, and all the reasons — both those reported by other sources and those that have come about more recently — are put forth below.

Let’s start at the beginning of 2015, when Den of Geek published a piece entitled “A Stephen King Movie Universe: Warner Bros’ Big Opportunity?” The article pointed out that Warner Bros. had recently lain claim to the movie rights for The Stand, which many consider to be King’s magnum opus, and it was the perfect story to kick off a Stephen King cinematic universe.

Why would The Stand be such a great start to a connected anthology of Stephen King’s works? Well, because it contains the iconic Stephen King villain Randall Flagg who can traverse dimensions and appears in a wide range of Stephen King novels. Warner Bros. had, at the time, cast Matthew McConaughey as Randall Flagg in the adaptation, which was set to be directed by Josh Boone.

For whatever reason, the planned movie adaptation of The Stand would fall apart over the next year or two. Maybe it was because Warner Bros. decided to dedicate themselves to their adaptation of It, another Stephen King-penned classic.

In any case, it was Sony Pictures that picked up the pieces by using the remarkably well-suited Matthew McConaughey-Randall Flagg casting as part of another Stephen King adaptation that also stars the iconic villain. That adaptation was “The Dark Tower,” a seven-book sci-fi western series that ties together nearly all of King’s work and features Flagg and several of his alter-egos as some of its antagonists.

Stephen King's 'The Dark Tower'
[Image by Entertainment Weekly]

When I say the Dark Tower series connects a lot of King’s works, I mean that it directly references characters, events, and major concepts from nearly all of King’s 40+ other novels. Tallying every connection would take an entire book, but just a few notable ones include one of the main protagonists from Salem’s Lot showing up as a major figure, the most major force from It being referenced as a god figure of the novels, and the big bad from Insomnia being the big force of evil at the end of the story. Stephen King himself even plays a large role in the narrative as a fictional character within.

That is not even to mention the connections in the individual Stephen King books themselves, which frequently reference elements from each other. For example, many of King’s stories take place in the two fictional Maine towns of Derry and Castle Rock, and many of them reference the same towspeople or the same urban legends.

Anyway, Sony is moving forward with the Dark Tower adaptation. It contains a villain that unites many Stephen King books. Other elements of the movie will do more of that unification.

Let’s move forward in time to earlier this year, when Sony showed off some footage from The Dark Tower during a private panel at Cinema Con. Variety, who had a reporter at the panel, noted soon after that the footage shown, which had included a shot of the Overlook Hotel from The Shining, strongly hinted that more Stephen King was coming from the studio in the future.

[For a larger image of the flowchart below, check out the print at Etsy.]

Bloody Disgusting was the one to write an article called “Does The Dark Tower Launch a Connected Stephen King Cinematic Universe?” The title says it all. What with the interconnectedness of King’s works and the fact that the Dark Tower series is where all those connections come together, it was looking like Sony, a studio in dire need of a new and successful franchise, might have a golden opportunity on its hands.

The fact that Stephen King’s books are usually over 600 pages long doesn’t hurt, either, as it means most of the stories could reasonably be broken into two or three films.

At the time Cinema Con happened, the general excitement for the Warner Bros. adaptation of It that was mentioned earlier was already growing. By this point, that excitement has grown into an all-consuming frenzy. Just one example of how extreme it is can be seen with the view count of the movie’s trailer released three weeks ago: 246 million in just the first 36 hours, according to Collider. The number shatters that of any other movie trailer in history.

The Inquisitr reported previously that the huge amount of exposure the It adaptation is getting in today’s pop culture landscape has actually caused many people who have never thought of King as a “good” author to pick up his books. They have, in general, fallen in love with the author’s style, which, as they will tell you on forums like the Stephen King subreddit, is much more varied and inspired than King has gotten credit for in the past.

The point is, Stephen King is more popular now than he has been in decades. And that popularity just so happens to coincide with the development of a movie based on a series that ties all of Stephen King’s work together. The facts that Sony is going through a dry spell and that cinematic universes and long-running franchises are very hot in the big-budget cinema scene right now are just the cherries on top.

All signs point to an upcoming Stephen King cinematic universe. Of course, as Roland Deschain, the lead from the Dark Tower Saga, would say, there will be water if God wills it.

The Dark Tower is slated for release on August 4, 2017.

[Featured Image by Powerofforever]