It’s been estimated that Stephen King’s fiction has sold between 300 million and 350 million copies. With popularity like that, it’s no wonder Hollywood is his biggest fan. The Internet Movie Database lists 288 King adaptations: movies, TV movies, TV series, shorts, video games.
Still, it’s one thing for a King work to be adapted. What may be even more impressive is that there have been several remakes of King adaptations. The latest example, “Pet Sematary,” opens April 5. Jason Clarke plays a man who moves with his family to a small town and finds out . . . well, it’s based on a Stephen King novel, so you can just imagine. Even if you can’t, he certainly did. That’s what makes him Stephen King. The first “Pet Sematary” movie came out in 1989.
Here’s a look at eight examples of onscreen double-dipping, King-style. It excludes sequels (an even larger category) and examples of movies based on King novels that then became stage plays. “Misery” has not one but two stage versions. “Carrie” was one of the all-time Broadway bombs. It was a . . . musical. Scary, huh?
Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie
With all due respect to Faye Dunaway, Spacek should have gotten the best actress Oscar. At least she was nominated. You’d be hard-pressed to name a finer performance in a King adaptation. Brian De Palma did the gory directorial honors.
Chloë Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore
Despite excellently cast leads, and a talented director in Kimberly Peirce (“Boys Don’t Cry”), this version has more in common with the musical than the original film.
David Soul, James Mason, Lance Kerwin
Tobe Hooper directed this TV movie about a New England town invaded by some familiar fang-tastic, crucifix-averse supernatural creatures.
Rob Lowe, Andre Braugher, Donald Sutherland
Mikael Salomon directed this two-part TV miniseries.
Jack Nicholson, Shelley Duvall
Stanley Kubrick directed. It’s the gold standard for King adaptations — even better than the original “Carrie” or original “Dead Zone” — except that King hated it.
Steven Weber, Rebecca De Mornay
Kubrick didn’t direct it, so this three-episode TV miniseries is a lot more canonical, King-wise.
Hal Holbrook, Adrienne Barbeau, Fritz Weaver, Leslie Nielsen, Carrie Nye, E. G. Marshall, Viveca Lindfors
The cast is so large because the film is a five-story anthology. George A. Romero (the “Living Dead” movies) directed. De Palma, Hooper, Kubrick, Romero, David Cronenberg (see below): Early on, King got the red-carpet directorial treatment.
Logan Allen, Madison Bailey, Hannah Barefoot, Nelson Bonilla, Connor Christie
A series set to stream later this year on AMC’s Shudder service.
The Dead Zone
Christopher Walken, Brooke Adams
Walken plays Johnny Smith, who emerges from a coma with psychic powers? David Cronenberg directed? There’s such rightness here one can only paraphrase Bill Murray in “Ghostbusters”: Are those trick questions?
Anthony Michael Hall, Nicole de Boer
The cable series ran on USA Network.
Children of the Corn
Peter Horton, Linda Hamilton (Sarah Connor!)
A small town. Human sacrifice. Not good. Directed by Fritz Kiersch (so much for red-carpet treatment).
David Anders, Kandyse McClure
Donald P. Borchers directed this TV movie. Oh boy, that He Who Walks Behind the Rows! Even the walls have ears (different kind of ears).
Dale Midkiff, Fred Gwynne (Herman Munster!)
Mary Lambert directed, but the important point for King aficionados is that he did the screenplay. He did the script for “Creepshow,” too.
Jason Clarke, John Lithgow
This time King turned over screenwriting honors to Matt Greenberg and Jeff Buhler.Mark Feeney can be reached at email@example.com.