James Wan, Roy Lee Team for Stephen King's 'Tommyknockers' (Exclusive)

The 'Conjuring' filmmaker and 'It' producer are joining veteran producer Larry Sanitsky to set up the adaptation of one of King's best-selling books.
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

The Tommyknockers could be the next Stephen King novel to get the feature treatment.

James Wan, the director and producer behind the Conjuring horror movies, and Roy Lee, one of the producers behind the adaptation of King’s It, are tackling the adaptation of the writer’s 1987 popular science-fiction/horror novel.

Wan and Lee, who would produce via their respective banners, Atomic Monster and Vertigo Entertainment, have teamed up with Larry Sanitsky, the veteran producer who executive produced the 1993 TV miniseries adaptation of The Tommyknockers.

The package hit studios and digital streamers such as Netflix on Thursday, ahead of the Easter and Passover holiday weekend.

“It is an allegorical tale of addiction (Stephen was struggling with his own at the time), the threat of nuclear power, the danger of mass hysteria and the absurdity of technical evolution run amuck. All are as relevant today as the day the novel was written. It is also a tale about the eternal power of love and the grace of redemption,” wrote Sanitsky, who holds the screen rights, in a mission statement sent to prospective buyers and obtained by The Hollywood Reporter.  

The project is expected to garner keen interest thanks to several factors. The Tommyknockers is the second-best-selling King book of all time in its initial hard cover release and outsold such King classics as It, The Shining and Carrie. And there is already a hungry appetite for the author's material thanks to the success of It, New Line’s adaptation that proved to be a surprise hit when it grossed $700 million worldwide.

The story focuses on a town in Maine that falls under the influence of a dangerous gas from an unearthed space craft. The gas begins to transform the people, giving them enhanced abilities, but also making them violent and subject to an alien hive mentality. One man, thanks to a steel plate in his head, is immune to the effects and tries to stop the townspeople.

ABC's 1993 miniseries, which starred Jimmy Smits and Marg Helgenberger, was a massive ratings hit. In 2013, NBC announced it would make another adaptation, but those plans never came to fruition.