Stephen King's Latest Book Is Becoming A Movie, And It Just Took A Huge Step Forward

One of the nicest things about being a Stephen King fan is that we don't ever have to wait all that long between adaptations. Whenever one premieres, it's typical that the next is right around the corner, and it often feels like new projects are announced regularly. Take this week for example: John Lee Hancock's Mr. Harrigan's Phone, based on King's novella of the same name, just became available for Netflix subscribers yesterday, and today we have the news that the film based on his latest novel, Fairy Tale, has been picked up for development at Universal Pictures.

It was announced in mid-September that writer/director Paul Greengrass had come aboard to direct the adaptation of Fairy Tale, and today Deadline is reporting that the developing feature has found a home at a major studio. The trade reports that there was a "heated auction" as different companies tried to pick up the movie, and Universal ended up having the winning bid.

Fairy Tale by Stephen King book cover

(Image credit: Scribner)

The story adds that Paul Greengrass' past experience with Universal helped make the deal happen, as the studio previously produced his contributions to the Bourne franchise, United 93, and News Of The World

Fairy Tale, which only hit store shelves a month ago, centers on Charlie Reade, a teenager who lives in a small town in Illinois with his father – a widower and recovering alcoholic. While out walking on his street one day, Charlie hears a dog barking and sounds of distress, and he ends up saving the life of an elderly neighbor named Howard Bowditch who fell off a ladder doing housework and broke his leg. 

Feeling that he owes the universe something because of a prayer he made to get his dad to stop drinking, the protagonist ends up watching after Bowditch's dog Radar while he is in the hospital, and he becomes the man's caretaker during his recovery at home. He starts to recognize strange things about the old recluse – such as the fact that he doesn't know his own age and that he has a safe containing a bucket of gold pellets. Eventually, Charlie discovers the full truth and it leads him on an adventure in another world to try and save Radar's life.

As one may gather from the title, Fairy Tale is more fantasy than horror, which is a genre Stephen King has previously explored with books including Eyes Of The Dragon, The Talisman (which is now in the works as a Netflix show), and the Dark Tower series. 

This will mark the first time that Paul Greengrass has made a Stephen King adaptation, but he has the author's support because he is a fan. When Greengrass' involvement was first announced, King issued a brief but positive statement, saying,

Needless to say, I’m a Paul Greengrass fan and think he’s a wonderful choice for this film.

Fairy Tale getting the support of a major studio like Universal Pictures is exciting given the ultimate scale of the story, but how quickly it will move through development is unknown at this point. With any luck it will get fast-tracked and become a priority for the studio, and if so it's possible that we could see the film in theaters sometime during the 2024 calendar year.

While we wait for more updates about about Fairy Tale, you can learn about the long history between Stephen King and Hollywood via my weekly Adapting Stephen King column, and discover all of the other projects that are in development with our Upcoming Stephen King Movies And TV guide. If you're looking for something spooky to watch in the run-up to Halloween, you'll find a lot of great options in my ranking of the best Stephen King films.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.