With the work of Stephen King red-hot these days in Hollywood, it was still a bit of a surprise to learn that a new adaptation of one of his less acclaimed novels, The Tommyknockers, was making the rounds to studios and streaming outlets.
But not only has the success of last year's It put King solidly back on the industry radar, the involvement of James Wan as a producer and possible director on the new Tommyknockers has sweetened the deal even more.
Deadline reports that Universal Pictures has acquired the project, winning a bidding war that found the studio competing against Sony and Netflix. Wan is producing alongside Roy Lee and Larry Sanitsky, the latter of whom was an executive producer on the two-part 1993 miniseries that was first made from King's book.
King's 1987 novel was one of his early full-on forays into science fiction, as the residents of a small Maine town called Haven begin to come under the malign influence of a mysterious object buried in the woods. The object turns out to be a long-dormant alien spacecraft that is transforming the townspeople into beings like its occupants.
A sci-fi tale with horror overtones, The Tommyknockers was (according to King) inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's The Colour Out of Space and also bears some resemblance to the classic British TV serial (and later film) Quatermass and the Pit.
King himself has not spoken favorably of the book over the years, admitting that it was written at the height of his addiction to drugs and alcohol. He told Rolling Stone in 2014 that The Tommyknockers was "an awful book. That was the last one I wrote before I cleaned up my act."
With It earning $700 milion at the worldwide box office last year (and the sequel coming in 2019), studios are clamoring to repeat that success with other King properties. Coincidentally, the success of the previous 1990 miniseries version of It probably provided the momentum for The Tommyknockers to follow on TV three years later (and since that was followed by the TV miniseries of The Stand in 1994, let's hope that history can repeat itself on the big screen).
James Wan, meanwhile, is in post-production on Aquaman and could potentially direct The Tommyknockers after that if he decides he wants to do more than produce. The next spinoff from his The Conjuring series, The Nun, comes out July 13.
King fans sound off below: Does The Tommyknockers deserve another chance, this time as a feature film, and should James Wan direct it?