Stephen King revealed the movie adaptations of his work that he thinks shouldn’t be remade, and while he’s right in choosing the ones he did, he’s also ignoring the best (and most controversial) one. Stephen King has rightfully earned the title of “King of Horror” thanks to his novels and short stories exploring a variety of characters (both human and supernatural), settings, and concepts from the horror genre, and it all started in 1974 with the publishing of Carrie. Brian de Palma’s 1976 adaptation of the novel turned Carrie into a bestseller, opening many doors for King in the entertainment industry.
Since then, King has taken readers through a variety of stories to meet different characters, settings, and explore different fears, and his works have been so successful and popular that many of them have been adapted to film and TV (sometimes both, and sometimes more than once). Of course, not every adaptation of his novels and short stories has been a favorite of King, and he isn’t shy when it comes to sharing his thoughts and feelings about them, but he has also praised some of them, even saying they should never be remade.
In an interview with Bangor Daily News, Stephen King revealed the two movies based on his work that he wouldn’t like to see remade (along with one remake he’s not totally on board with): The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, with doubts about the upcoming Christine remake, but King is forgetting the best adaptation of his novels, though it’s the one he doesn’t agree with.
The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are two of the best film adaptations of Stephen King’s work, and he’s right in not wanting to see them remade. Directed by Frank Darabont and released in 1994, The Shawshank Redemption is based on King’s 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption from the collection Different Seasons. The Shawshank Redemption follows Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker who is sentenced to life in Shawshank State Penitentiary for the murders of his wife and her lover, though he claims he’s innocent. Over the next two decades, he befriends a fellow prisoner, Ellis “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), a contraband smuggler, and becomes instrumental in a money-laundering operation led by the prison warden Samuel Norton (Bob Gunton).
Although The Shawshank Redemption was initially a box office disappointment, it was a massive critical success, earning multiple award nominations (including seven Academy Awards nominations), with most praise going towards its story, the performances of the main cast, and its cinematography, with King calling it his favorite adaptation of his work (along with Stand By Me) in 2016.
Darabont returned to the Stephen King universe in 1999 with The Green Mile, an adaptation of the 1996 novel of the same name. Also a prison story, The Green Mile follows death row prison guard Paul Edgecomb (Tom Hanks) who witnesses supernatural events after the arrival of enigmatic convict John Coffey (Michael Clarke Duncan), who has special powers. The Green Mile was a critical and commercial success, and just like Shawshank, it was nominated for a variety of awards, with most praise going towards its performances, story, direction, and emotional weight. The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are considered among the best adaptations of King’s work, and there’s little to nothing in Darabont’s work as writer and director that could be improved, so there’s no need to remake these two movies. However, Stephen King is completely ignoring another great adaptation, though a controversial one: Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.
While The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile are now considered classics from the branch of prison films and King adaptations, King’s remake wishes completely ignore one of the most successful adaptations of his work, though he has very good and valid reasons to do so: Kubrick’s The Shining. King’s 1977 novel was adapted to the big screen in 1980 by legendary director Stanley Kubrick, and while he took the basic premise of King’s novel, he made major changes to the source material, to the point where they are considered two very different entities.
The Shining follows Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson), a struggling writer and recovering alcoholic who takes a position as the off-season caretaker of the Overlook Hotel in the Colorado Rockies, and takes his wife, Wendy (Shelley Duvall), and their son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), with him in hopes to rebuild their relationship and reconnect. Jack also hopes to find the motivation he needs to work on a play, but when a snowstorm leaves the family cut off from the outside world, and along with Danny’s psychic abilities, known as “The Shine”, the supernatural forces inhabiting the hotel awaken and begin to mess with the Torrances, but mostly with Jack’s sanity. Although initial reactions were mixed, The Shining is now considered one of the greatest horror movies ever made, as well as one of the most influential movies ever. The Shining is also among Kubrick’s finest works, but that doesn’t mean it was a favorite of King.
King has famously stated over the years his dislike and disapproval of Kubrick’s version of The Shining due to how much it deviated from his novel. The Shining is one of King’s most personal works, with various autobiographical elements, so most of King’s disappointment came from the lack of themes like the disintegration of family and the dangers of alcoholism in the movie. King was also disappointed in how Kubrick focused on Jack as the main character rather than on Danny, with the former’s psychological profile also changing to present him as an already mentally unstable man rather than an “ordinary and balanced man who little by little loses control”.
However, King has shared some praise for Kubrick’s work as a filmmaker even if he still doesn’t like what he did with The Shining, sharing in his 1981 nonfiction book Danse Macabre that it “somehow retains a brilliance that is inarguable” and admitted that Kubrick’s The Shining has “contributed something of value to the [horror] genre”. With the 2019 adaptation of The Shining’s sequel novel, Doctor Sleep, King shared that everything he disliked about Kubrick’s The Shining was redeemed for him, but it’s unlikely that he now likes the movie. While it’s understandable that King dislikes Kubrick’s take on The Shining given all the changes it did to the story, its horror elements, and the characters, The Shining has a lot of value in itself and is one of the best movies based on a Stephen King book ever made, also making it near-impossible to top and thus making it one that shouldn’t be remade.
The film industry has been going through a trend of reboots, requels, and remakes in recent years, and not even movies that were considered to be too “perfect” to be remade have been safe from going through that treatment. It’s not impossible, then, that The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, and The Green Mile will be remade at some point, but it’s unlikely this will happen soon. In The Shining’s case, and as mentioned above, it already got a sequel in Mike Flanagan’s Doctor Sleep, and a spinoff TV series titled Overlook was in development at HBO Max in 2020, but the future of this project is now unclear. It’s highly unlikely that someone will dare to take Kubrick’s film and remake it, but what’s not that unlikely is another adaptation of King’s novel, which already happened in 1997 with a TV miniseries.
As for The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, it’s also unlikely they will be picked up for a remake, especially The Shawshank Redemption, given its value and legacy, as it continues to be regarded as one of the best movies ever made and one of the most influential ones as well. Out of these three Stephen King adaptations, the one most likely to get remade at some point is The Green Mile, though that would still be a risky move as just like the other two, there’s little to improve upon. Hopefully, Stephen King’s wishes of The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile not being remade will be honored, and while he might still not be a fan of it, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining should also be added to the wish as it doesn’t need to be remade at all.
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