New Line is developing an adaptation of Stephen King’s The Long Walk, a dystopian novel about a grueling cross-country marathon. Having already achieved plenty of success under his real name, in the late ’70s famed author Stephen King began secretly writing and publishing books under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. One of King’s so-called Bachman books, The Running Man, would later go on to become a schlocky (but strangely prescient) ’80s action movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger (that served as an inspiration for The Hunger Games).
In all, King would publish five works under the pseudonym, the last being 1984’s Thinner. By the time of Thinner‘s publication, canny King fans had already discovered the secret of the Bachman pseudonym and revealed the author’s true identity. King would later publish two more books under the no-longer-secret pen name, 1996’s The Regulators and 2007’s Blaze.
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More than 30 years after the premature “death” of Richard Bachman, another of the fake author’s books will hit the big screen. As reported by THR, New Line cinema is developing an adaptation of The Long Walk, published under the Bachman name in 1979. James Vanderbilt (Truth) has written a script and will produce together with Bradley Fischer and William Sherak of Mythology Entertainment, with Tracey Nyberg acting as executive producer.
New Line has already enjoyed fruitful relationship with King, having produced last year’s blockbuster IT. The studio will also make the sequel IT: Chapter Two, with Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy and Bill Hader reportedly jumping aboard as three of the grown-up former Losers’ Club members. King is so hot now that other studios are jumping on the bandwagon, too. Universal recently won the bidding war over Tommyknockers, a new King adaptation being set up by James Wan and IT producer Roy Lee. Paramount will also get in on the act with their remake of Pet Sematary to star Jason Clarke.
Set in a dystopian future, The Long Walk concerns a grueling marathon competition in which 100 teenagers walk across country, under armed guard, dropping one-by-one until only one of them remains alive. The story treads similar territory to King’s The Running Man, with its dystopian setting and story centered around a life-or-death contest. Like The Running Man, The Long Walk seemed to anticipate America’s later love affair with reality competition shows, though the stakes on Survivor are not quite as high as in The Long Walk.
The teen angle may make The Long Walk extra-appealing to New Line, as it adds a certain Hunger Games feel to the whole affair. Though the story this time is certainly a lot more grim than Hunger Games. In The Long Walk, snipers shoot any competitor who stops for too long or strays away from the course. This story does not exactly lend itself to Katniss-like heroics, unless producers make changes to leaven its murderously downbeat tone.
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