the talisman movie update

The Talisman, the fantasy-horror novel from Stephen King and Peter Straub, has been in one stage or another of film or TV development before it even hit bookshelves in 1984. Steven Spielberg snapped up the film rights immediately and has been working with Amblin to bring the book to life – with nothing to show for it…yet. Now, Amblin is trying once again, with Handmaid’s Tale director Mike Barker at the helm and Chris Sparling handling the script.

Oh, The Talisman. Will we ever see you come to life? Maybe! At least, that’s what Collider is saying. They report that Mike Barker, director behind episodes of The Handmaid’s TaleFargo, Outlander, Broadchurch and more, will helm the long-gestating film adaptation of the Stephen King/Peter Straub novel. Frank Marshall will produce on behalf of Kennedy/Marshall, and former Amblin CEO Michael Wright will executive produce.

Steven Spielberg gained the rights to The Talisman in 1982, two years before the book was even released. He immediately set about trying to crack the book into a film. “Spielberg fell in love with the book before it was published and persuaded Universal to buy the film rights,” Peter Straub said in 1996. “[Stephen King and I] went to the Amblin offices on the Universal lot for a long meeting during which it became clear that Spielberg had a great understanding of the story and would have made a wonderful film of the book. However, the project got shelved.”

Spielberg, Amblin, and company have been struggling with the project ever since. At one point, a miniseries was planned. Then, by 2008, Frank Marshall said: “It’s back to being a movie…It’s kind of on the backburner since we’re waiting to see how everything shakes out…” In 2017, word surfaced that Josh Boone – who is adapting King’s The Stand into a CBS All Access series – was working on a new Talisman script.

Last year, Spielberg said there was still hope for the adaptation:

“I feel that in the very near future, that’s going to be our richest collaboration. Universal bought the book for me, so it wasn’t optioned. It was an outright sale of the book…I’ve owned the book since ’82, and I’m hoping to get this movie made in the next couple of years. I’m not committing to the project as a director, I’m just saying that it’s something that I’ve wanted to see come to theaters for the last 35 years.”

Now, it might finally be happening. Here’s the official The Talisman synopsis.

Jack Sawyer, twelve years old, is about to begin a most fantastic journey, an exalting, terrifying quest for the mystical Talisman—the only thing that can save Jack’s dying mother. But to reach his goal, Jack must make his way not only across the breadth of the United States but also through the wondrous and menacing parallel world of the Territories.

In the Territories, Jack finds another realm, where the air is so sweet and clear a man can smell a radish being pulled from the ground a mile away—and a life can be snuffed out instantly in the continuing struggle between good and evil. Here Jack discovers “Twinners,” reflections of the people he knows on earth—most notably Queen Laura, the Twinner of Jack’s own imperiled mother. As Jack “flips” between worlds, making his way westward toward the redemptive Talisman, a sequence of heart-stopping encounters challenges him at every step.

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