On Monday, Feb. 15, Hulu premieres its biggest original project yet with the mini-series adaptation to Stephen King’s time-traveling bestseller “11.22.63.”
Starring James Franco and executive produced by both J.J. Abrams and King himself, the story here follows English teacher Jake Epping as he finds himself transported back to 1960 with the mission to stop the assassination of JFK.
The eight-part limited series brings with it some Stephen King staples fans will recognize. Yes, the story starts off near Derry, Maine. There are recurring themes of the dark underbelly that exists under the seemingly idealistic America of the 1960s. This environment has been a common backdrop for King and appears in fan favorites like “Stand By Me” and “IT.”
Watching the first few episodes of “11.22.63,” it’s hard not to think of the connection to either of these stories. There is a popular theory that links every story in the Stephen King universe together which finds Pennywise the clown in cahoots with the Crimson King from “The Dark Tower.”
It’s a big concept to wrap one’s head around but if Quentin Tarantino can connect his characters together in the same way Marvel has done with their cinematic universe, then why not here?
Mentioning “The Dark Tower” and “IT” is not something done here by accident. With a movie remake of “IT” in the works and rumors of a few “Dark Tower” movies — and accompanying small-screen series adaptation — in development, King’s work remains more relevant and popular than ever.
After the shakeup that found Carey Fukunaga out as director on the retelling of the Pennywise story, fans have been scratching their heads at how the reboot will work. Andy Muschietti (“Mama”) has since stepped in to helm the project.
Is Will Poultier still going to don the striped outfit and clown makeup previously worn by Tim Curry? That’s up in the air, although Poultier is apparently at the top of Muschietti’s list. More importantly, will a movie do the original subject matter justice?
The two-part mini-series that took America by storm in 1990 doesn’t really last the test of time. Curry’s portrayal of the evil clown is the only real horrific glue holding that whole thing together.
With the enduring nature of coulrophobia — meaning, fear of clowns — a new take on “IT” doesn’t at all sound like a bad idea. However, with the book running over 1000 pages, encapsulating a story into a mere two hour film may not be the best way to go about things — even if there is a sequel planned.
This brings us to “11.22.63.” While the series adaptation strays a bit here and there from the book — which is lengthy, but shorter than “IT” — the small-screen medium feels like the perfect place to tell the story.
With names like J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burke, and Stephen King involved in making this happen for the streaming service, the notion may cross one’s mind that Hulu may want to adapt more of King’s works.
Turning one’s attention back to the big (and small) screen development of “The Dark Tower,” it might be worth mentioning Sony’s involvement in getting this project up and running after years of rumors and speculation.
Word right now has Idris Elba in talks to play Gunslinger Roland Deschain with Matthew McConaughey taking on the villainous Randal Flagg — a character previously seen on-screen in 1994’s “The Stand.”
With Hulu expanding their licensing deal with Sony, and Sony’s heavy connection with “The Dark Tower” project, it seems like the two could work together to bring that companion series to the streaming service … if this project ever truly gets off the ground.
In the same vein as Netflix with Marvel’s street-level stories, the concept of Hulu taking the Stephen King universe to the small-screen feels like a smart one. So far, “11.22.63” has delivered a way more engaging and thought-provoking story than CBS did with “Under the Dome.”
Let’s be clear here, though … this article isn’t saying it will happen as this is purely a fanboy’s notion of bringing the story of Richie Tozier (Harry Anderson) and Beverly March’s (Annette O’Toole) battle against Pennywise back in the best way.
If this hasn’t convinced you yet, it may be worth mentioning the cameos of Richie and Beverly in the “11.22.63” book. With a passing mention of a killer clown in the pages of the 2011 novel, those horrors of Derry, Maine can be felt as echoes in Hulu’s new series.
Connecting them together in one place, just feels like the right thing to do. Beep Beep!