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pet sematary stephen king
Paramount Pictures
A different kind of scaredy-cat.
THE CAT'S PAJAMAS

Stephen King is the king of Hollywood right now

By Adam Epstein

Oh, hey, look, another Stephen King movie adaptation!

This time it’s the second remake of the horror maestro’s novel Pet Sematary, about a family that moves to a home in the woods where they discover an ancient burial ground that can reanimate the dead. The story was first adapted in a 1989 film directed by Mary Lambert.

Like many King adaptations, the film looks like a good deal of campy, spooky fun:

Pet Sematary is one of three major Hollywood movies based on King’s work scheduled for next year, in addition to a Netflix adaptation of In the Tall Grass and the highly anticipated sequel to the 2017 blockbuster It, which itself was the second time that story was made into a movie or TV series.

King, one of the most prolific writers in history, has become one of Hollywood’s foremost purveyors of content. He’s written around 260 novels and short stories. Even if we account for King works that have been adapted more than once, Hollywood has still already adapted, in one way or another, nearly one third of King’s vast oeuvre. He is a genre unto himself.

The American film and TV industries have averaged more than two King adaptations per year since they first started turning his books into movies with Carrie in 1976. Hollywood has been remarkably consistent adapting King’s novels over the course of four decades, but last year was the first time ever that there were more than five different King adaptations:

Including feature films, direct-to-video releases, TV series, miniseries, and episodes of TV series (like the 1986 Twilight Zone episode “Gramma” based on King’s short story), there have been 105 Stephen King adaptations in total since 1976.

Hollywood’s thirst for content has only been exacerbated by the streaming wars on the TV front and the mass media consolidation on the film front. Every network and studio is looking for “stuff” to adapt, and King’s canon is an ideal, never-ending supply—his novels are well-known, easily adaptable, and he keeps writing more. His 2018 novel The Outsider is already being turned into a miniseries.

What’s more, the horror genre is thriving as one of the film industry’s safest (and cheapest) investments, so King’s services are needed now more than ever. Many horror films don’t need an unwieldy blockbuster budget in order to score box office success—just look at the 2017 adaptation of King’s story It, which grossed over $700 million globally on a $35 million budget.

Though he’s shown no signs of slowing down, King, who’s 71, will eventually stop writing. So it’s a good thing he’s written enough to supply the Hollywood content machine for many years thereafter. If that doesn’t suffice, there’s always the pet cemetery option.