Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 is the biggest movie of the year, with a $1.1 billion-dollar take worldwide. We’ve known for years that Warner Bros. was anxious about this point in time because, without Potter, what will the studio be able to rely upon as a guaranteed cash cow? And with the afterglow of that billion-buck figure starting to fade like the taillights of a truck hauling off WB’s money-printing press, it is time to take action.

The action is this: put director David Yates and screenwriter Steve Kloves, the architects of Potter‘s success, together on a new project. Something big. Something sprawling enough to generate a couple movies. Something like Stephen King‘s own thousand-page viral outbreak, end of the world, showdown-between-good-and-evil doorstop The Stand. I think it’s a great idea. Will the moviegoing public? That remains to be seen.

HitFix has the report; this is only partially new, as David Yates has been talking about the possibility of directing The Stand (currently positioned as a multi-film adaptation) for a couple months. But having Steve Kloves on board is a great step in the right direction. He did a great job cutting the Potter novels down into film-size chunks. If they both sign, as HitFix says they are poised to do, it’s probably our best hope for getting a good couple of movies out of The Stand. Or it’s the first step towards our best hope; we still have to see who’ll end up in the cast.

(This is as good a place as any to acknowledge that the Mick Garris TV miniseries, now streaming on Netflix, has set a good benchmark for casting in some respects. Gary Sinise, for example, was great as Stu Redman, the East Texas guy who survives an apocalyptic viral outbreak and eventually leads the forces of good, more or less, against the powerful agent of chaos Randall Flagg. Miguel Ferrer was a solid Lloyd Henreid and Matt Frewer an inspired choice for damaged weirdo the Trashcan Man.)

The obvious question is: will the films that result from this deal be rated R? The TV miniseries did some things very right, but mid-’90s network TV wasn’t really the place for a story that involves death and destruction on levels both broad and intimate as seen in The Stand.

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