Based on Stephen King’s novel from 1980, the story follows a young girl who develops pyrokinetic abilities and is abducted by a secret government agency that wants to harness her powerful gift as a weapon. The remake is set to go into production very soon, and has some pretty heavy-hitters behind the scenes bringing it to life. The Firestarter remake grows an ever-expanding list of King films and TV shows that will be coming our way very soon. We break down everything we know so far about the film and will update this post as news comes in.
In King’s original 1980 novel, Andy McGee and Vicky Tomlinson participated in a drug experiment run by a veiled government agency known as The Shop. One year later, they marry. Two years later, their little girl, Charlie, sets her teddy bear on fire by simply staring at it.
Now that Charlie is eight, and she doesn’t start fires anymore. Her parents have taught her to control her pyrokinesis, the ability to set anything—toys, clothes, even people—aflame. But The Shop knows about and wants this pigtailed “ultimate weapon.” Shop agents set out to hunt down Charlie and her father in a ruthless chase that traverses the streets of New York and the backwoods of Vermont.
There has already been a big screen version of this story, with Drew Barrymore playing Charlie. The original 1984 poster has one of the longest taglines of any movie but it pretty much sums up the plot:
“Charlie McGee is a happy, healthy 8-year-old little girl. Normal in every way but one. She has the power to set objects afire with just one glance. It’s a power she does not want. It’s a power she can’t control. And, each night, Charlie prays to be just like every other child. But there are those who will do everything in their power to find her, control her… or destroy her. Charlie McGee is Stephen King’s Firestarter. Will she have the power… to survive?”
That film was ultimately seen as a failure, despite the great George C. Scott – King himself described it as one of the worst adaptations of his work, calling it, “flavourless, like cafeteria mashed potatoes”. Let’s see if the crew over at Blumhouse can turn this around, sticking closer to King’s novel.
There’s been no word on potential cast members yet but look for that to change very soon. As far as potential casting there is a lot of talk around Madison Wolfe, who appeared in the graphic novel adaptation I Kill Giants. She turned in a confident and layered performance but perhaps she’s already too old at 15. In the book though, Charlie is described as having blond hair and blue eyes, and as someone who is also tall for her age. She is also very stubborn, intelligent, and strong, all the things Wolfe conveyed in I Kill Giants.
Wolfe isn’t a stranger to more horror-fueled fare either, previously appearing in James Wan’s film The Conjuring 2. If they happen to push Charlie’s age from an 8 or 9-year old into a pre-teen they could get themselves a wonderful up-and-comer. That’s not to say they couldn’t cast someone younger.
Universal has been developing Firestarter for some time and with King’s properties hot following the success of IT, the studio’s pushed to get this film into production. Enter: The producers of last year’s excellent horror breakout and Oscar-winning Get Out, Jason Blum’s company Blumhouse is responsible for hit horror franchises such as Paranormal Activity, The Purge, the Insidious/Sinister franchises, and M Night Shyamalan’s Split and the upcoming sequel, Glass.
Blum will be producing alongside Akiva Goldsman, while Martha de Laurentiis (who worked on the original Firestarter) is on board as an exec. producer. This will mark the third time Goldsman and Blum have worked together following the Paranormal Activity franchise and Stephanie.
Goldsman is best known as a screenwriter with a list of credits which include Cinderella Man, I Am Legend, and another King adaptation, The Dark Tower. Stephanie is his latest horror film starring Frank Grillo and Anna Torv. That film revolved around a little girl with unworldly abilities who was abandoned before a man and a woman show up claiming to be her parents, thereby interrupting her mysterious world.
Fatih Akin — the German director behind last year’s Golden Globe winner In the Fade — will direct Firestarter for Universal and Blumhouse. Firestarter will be the first big studio feature for Akin, who won a Golden Bear in Berlin for his film Head On, and best screenplay in Cannes for Edge of Heaven.
The 1984 adaptation was almost going to be directed by John Carpenter as Universal offered him the gig while he was shooting The Thing but swapped him out for Mark Lester when that alien body horror didn’t do the numbers at the box office, and Carpenter went on to direct another King story instead – Christine.
We don’t have a firm release date yet. But with a director and writer in place and a production team raring to go, expect this to find its place on the film schedules either late in 2019 or at some point in 2020.
Images: MGM, Universal, Viking Press,
Sony, Scream Factory, Michael Whelan