The Stand – coming soon to a theater near you?

Right on the heels of a report about a three part theatrical version of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower comes news that there could also be a several episode movie version of King’s epic 1978 novel The Stand in the works.

When New Line rolled the dice on the Lord of the Rings trilogy, I thought back to when George Romero tried to get a theatrical version of The Stand off the ground in the early eighties, and how daring it would have been to try a two or three part theatrical version then. In fact, with the horror genre still not taken seriously in many quarters, it would still be a bold idea.

Yes, with horror’s current resurgence, the money men still want ‘em fast and cheap, not lengthy and expensive.

As we just reported here on TG Daily, Guillermo Del Toro also had a tough time getting an epic, $150 million dollar adaptation of At the Mountains of Madness up and running at Universal. (It’s a dream project of Del Toro’s, and he hasn’t given up completely, he’s just moved on to another film, Pacific Rim, for now.)

It was 1979’s Salem’s Lot, directed by Tobe Hooper for CBS, that opened the door for horror mini-series, and paved the way for the mini-series version of The Stand in 1994.

Says Mick Garris, who directed The Stand and is a favorite director of King’s, “There’s no way I could not consider doing The Stand. It was a great script from a book I was in love with, and it couldn’t really be told in any other way.”

When I mentioned the Lord of the Rings idea to Garris, and whether it could have been done back in the day, he said “I think for a studio it would have been too big of a risk. I think if you ask any Stephen King fan, they would have gone in droves to three or four movies in a row, but it had been unprecedented to present films back to back like that.

“In the case of Lord of the Rings, it would be okay to wait months or a year between installments because each one was so self-contained. But in the case of The Stand, you don’t want to wait a year to find out what happens next. I think it would have been very difficult to do a linear story like that.”

Then again, Garris told me this when I was interviewing him for another project before The Stand movie plans were announced. Can a multi-part theatrical version make it today? Is it a big, expensive risk worth taking?

We’ll just have to wait to see if a major is willing to roll the dice, but I’m excited to think that with the right director, screenwriter and cast  it could be an epic milestone in the genre.