Did Warner Bros. get spooked?
The studio is looking to jettison its horror film “Salem’s Lot” to Max, sources say. Warner Bros. developed it for a theatrical rollout, but after sitting on the shelf for a year, the Gary Dauberman-directed Stephen King adaptation is poised to make its debut on the Warner Bros. Discovery streaming platform.
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A source with knowledge of the back-and-forth says the move is not a reflection of the film’s quality but is due to the fact that the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike has created a growing need for Max content. “Salem’s Lot” is one of a few Warner Bros. films targeted to make the jump. But a Warner Bros. spokesperson said, “No decision has been made about the film’s future distribution plans.”
“Salem’s Lot,” which shot in Massachusetts in 2021, was intended as a September 2022 release, with the month proving to be a successful pre-Halloween horror corridor for the studio. But Warners pushed the film to spring 2023, citing COVID-related postproduction delays. Earlier this month, “Salem’s Lot” quietly moved off the schedule altogether, prompting speculation that it would be a Warner Bros. Discovery tax write-off in the vein of last year’s “Batgirl.”
Starring “Top Gun: Maverick’s” Lewis Pullman, the film’s cast also includes Makenzie Leigh, Bill Camp, Pilou Asbaek, Alfre Woodard and William Sadler. Dauberman, who began developing the project in 2019, also wrote the screenplay. James Wan is a producer on the new “Salem’s Lot” via his Atomic Monster, the company behind a bevy of Warner Bros. horror hits from the “Conjuring” franchise.
King described the “Salem’s Lot” remake on X/Twitter, writing, “The Warner Bros remake of ‘Salem’s Lot,’ currently shelved, is muscular and involving. It has the feel of ‘Old Hollywood,’ when a film was given a chance to draw a breath before getting to business. When attention spans were longer, in other words.”
As with the original two-part CBS miniseries from 1979, the storyline follows a writer who returns to his hometown of the fictitious Jerusalem’s Lot to find he must then do battle with vampires. The book also was adapted in 2004 by TNT for an Emmy-nominated series starring Rob Lowe.
In the past, King novels have boosted Warners at the box office, most notably with Andy Muschietti’s low-budget adaptation of “It,” which earned $704 million worldwide in 2017.
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