Last week, the internet was buzzing with rumors that former romantic-comedy king and current Oscar winning Best Actor Matthew McConaughey was up for his choice of two roles in Josh Boone’s upcoming The Stand adaptation. Yes, that same The Stand, the massive Stephen King post-apocalyptic horror/fantasy novel that plenty of your friends have long been telling you to read. Before we dig into the meat of what this rumor could mean for Josh Boone’s potential version, let’s back up and figure out just how we got here (those only looking for info on The Stand’s current incarnation can head directly to page 2).
The Stand is like that commitment phobic, but unable to be alone, friend you had in high school. It has changed hands so many times with plenty of excitement and fear accompanying its numerous couplings. The novel’s affairs of the cinematic started way back in the 1980s, when King himself had planned to write a version directed by zombie king George A. Romero. Due to some trouble condensing the novel, (which at the time came in at over 800 pages before a later republication added material and upped that to over 1100) King tried to spin his theatrical dreams into a television miniseries. Unfortunately, at that time, no one was interested in seeing the world end while they had a nice family dinner. King then handed screenwriting duties over to Rospo Pallenberg, with an eye back on cinemas. Pallenberg’s adaptation would have brought the film to around three hours, mostly due to a devoted adherence to the novel. Yeah, Warner Brothers wasn’t interested in that.
For years, The Stand just sat in development hell, acquiring dust. That is until ABC reconsidered King’s recommendation for a TV miniseries, and decided to pick it up. King wrote the adaptation, and the four part, eight hour (for broadcast) miniseries aired in 1994. The miniseries, directed by Mick Garris, boasted such talents as Gary Sinise, Ed Harris, and Kathy Bates. It garnered generally positive reviews, although it has suffered greatly with the passage of time. You can currently see it in its entirety on Netflix Instant, but I strongly suggest that you reconsider. Perhaps it is its inherent 90s TV miniseries mediocrity, or maybe that King is largely pretty terrible at adapting his own material; but if you aren’t already a fan of the property this could very well sour you on it entirely.
Nothing was really heard from The Stand again until 2011, when Warner Brothers and CBS Films announced their intent to adapt it into a feature-length film. Thoughts of a single film transformed into those of a trilogy and David Yates was offered the chair. Just as fans were imagining the Harry Potter director’s version, with frequent collaborator Steve Kloves penning the script, it mysteriously changed hands to director Ben Affleck. In talking to Collider, Yates stated that he and Kloves “decided that it wasn’t for us” before elaborating on larger issues of the adaptation, saying:
…we felt this pressure to make these super tentpole movies with this material, and the things that you get in Potter—which are these extraordinary episodes of action—they didn’t exist in the material, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to deliver the kind of movie that ultimately the studio was hoping to get from this material. I could see making a miniseries from it, a really interesting, intricate, layered, enjoyable long-burn of a miniseries, I could see that, but what was missing for me were the big movie moments in the material, the big set pieces.
Little was heard regarding Affleck’s adaptation, until August 2013, when it was announced that he was leaving to play Batman and Crazy Heart director Scott Cooper was taking the reins. Cooper and The Stand’s divorce occurred like so many others, over creative differences with the studio. Enter Josh Boone.