Wednesday, 24 September 2014

J.J Abrams adapting Stephen King's time-travel novel 11/22/63 for Hulu

Wednesday, 24 September 2014
I like Stephen King and J.J Abrams, so anything combining their talents is cause for celebration. However, both men are far from infallible. Abrams has been struggling to find another Lost-sized hit for awhile now (bruised by the flops that were Undercovers, Alcatraz, and Almost Human), and I've lost track of how many King novels I've read with bad endings. I sometimes don't bother starting them now, because there's something particularly irritating about a weak ending when you've spent days or weeks reading something.

Anyway, Hulu have announced they're getting into the original programming game in a serious way, playing catchup with Netflix and Amazon Prime. J.J Abrams is developing an adaptation of King's 2011 novel 11/22/63 for the online streaming service, because King's work is suddenly hot property after the inexplicable success of Under the Dome for CBS.

If you don't know, 11/22/63 is a sci-fi epic about a 35-year-old high school English teacher, who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of JFK on 22 November 1963. Hey, maybe it'll be renamed 22/11/63 in the UK?

I haven't read this novel, but remember hearing good things when it was released at the time. Does it end well? That's my main concern. Part of the reason I was reticent about watching Under the Dome was knowing the book ended terribly, but the show being a ridiculous train-wreck forced me to quit all the sooner.

Jonathan Demme (The Silence of the Lambs) tried to get a film adaptation made awhile ago, but couldn't find a way to do it. I assume this was down to the unwieldiness of the story (he wanted to cut elements King didn't agree should be cut), so television sounds like the answer. But how long can you stretch this story out for, exactly? It could feel like the most protracted episode of Quantum Leap ever made if they're not careful!

11/22/63 is actually being written by Bridget Carpenter (Dead Like Me, Friday Night Lights), as J.J's a little busy making a sequel to a 37-year-old sci-fi movie. Star Wars, or something? There's no release date for 11/22/63, and certainly nothing about casting at this nascent stage, but this is definitely moving ahead with Hulu. I'm not sure which UK outlet will grab this, either.

What do you make of this news? Happy with news of a King/Abrams collaboration? Have you read the source material? Would it make a good TV show? Or a better miniseries or movie?