After spending over a decade in the lap of frequent King adapter Frank Darabont (The Mist, The Shawshank Redemption), the rights to the 1979 dystopian novel finally lapsed and were acquired by James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) and New Line Cinema, with Øvredal being tapped for the the director’s chair in May 2019. While he’s uncertain as to why it’s taken so long to get the project off the ground, he’s excited for what’s to come, even if “COVID is just wrecking everything” trying to into production but promising “it’s alive and well and moving along.”
“I guess in the end, he just didn’t choose to do it, I actually don’t even know if he ever had a script,” Øvredal pondered. “This script was written on spec by James Vanderbilt when he did not even have the rights to it, he just wrote it out of pure love for the book and in the end, suddenly the rights were open and he was able to go to King with his script and say, ‘Can we do this?’ Then New Line bought it and somehow I got involved [laughs].
The story takes place in a dystopian future, where 100 boys are selected for a long walk. They have to maintain speeds of 4 miles an hour, and receive fewer than three warnings an hour. Break these rules, and they’re shot dead. The last one standing, however, gets whatever he wants for the rest of his life. Despite the high stakes, the boys form an unlikely camaraderie along their journey. James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) wrote the screenplay and is producing alongside Bradley Fischer and William Sherak.