Universal Wins Stephen King's 'Tommyknockers' Bidding War

James Wan and Roy Lee will produce the adaptation of the 1987 novel.
Courtesy of Simon & Schuster

Universal Pictures has won an intense bidding war to pick up the screen rights to Tommyknockers, the 1987 sci-fi/horror novel from Stephen King.

James Wan, the director and producer behind the Conjuring movies, and Roy Lee, one of the producers behind the film adaptation of King’s It, are producing with Larry Sanitsky, the veteran producer who executive produced the 1993 TV miniseries adaptation of the novel starring Jimmy Smits and Marg Helgenberger.

Universal beat out Sony and Netflix, both of whom made aggressive overtures for the package. In the end, it came down to Sony and Universal.

No writer is attached, and Wan is not attached as director, but sources say that could change depending on development.

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.

“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 in a mission statement sent to buyers when the package when out a few weeks ago.