Stephen King weighs in on the state of Hollywood

AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 15: Stephen King signs copies of his new book 'Revival' on November 15, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images)
AUSTIN, TX - NOVEMBER 15: Stephen King signs copies of his new book 'Revival' on November 15, 2014 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images) /

The author shares his attitude on how authors should trust filmmakers.

The-Dark-Tower-Novel-Cover /

At Deadline, Mike Fleming, Jr. shared an exclusive interview with Stephen King about the relationship between authors and the Hollywood filmmakers who option their books for film. Highlights of King’s answers include his negative opinion of Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining:

"Anyway, I think The Shining is a beautiful film and it looks terrific and as I’ve said before, it’s like a big, beautiful Cadillac with no engine inside it. In that sense, when it opened, a lot of the reviews weren’t very favorable and I was one of those reviewers.[…]I feel the same because the character of Jack Torrance has no arc in that movie. Absolutely no arc at all. When we first see Jack Nicholson, he’s in the office of Mr. Ullman, the manager of the hotel, and you know, then, he’s crazy as a shit house rat. All he does is get crazier. In the book, he’s a guy who’s struggling with his sanity and finally loses it. To me, that’s a tragedy. In the movie, there’s no tragedy because there’s no real change. The other real difference is at the end of my book the hotel blows up, and at the end of Kubrick’s movie the hotel freezes. That’s a difference. But I met Kubrick and there’s no question he’s a terrifically smart guy."

One might think that disappointment would teach King not to trust another director with such a high degree of control over one of his books. However, the difference between King and most high-profile authors is that he expects minimal pay up front and doesn’t want to get in the way of the filmmaking process, though he does expect more credit after a movie becomes a success. Even after seeing some adaptations of his works that didn’t impress him, he still trusts directors and screenwriters to do their best. His approach is to set certain conditions at the beginning, such as approval of the director and screenwriter, then to be “part of the solution” in the process of making the movie, and let the result be what it may. If the movie is a success, then he’s proud of it. If it’s a travesty, then it’s not his problem.

His conclusion to the question of what Hollywood owes novelists comes down to the difference between the power of the book itself and the power of the writer.

"I mean, I know writers – and I’m not going to name any names – that I wouldn’t let within 2000 miles of a movie I was trying to make, because they’re such gremlins. They want to get in and tinker and all this. But the book deserves a fair shake. The writer? Nah. […] What the writer deserves is a fair accounting if the movie’s a success."