Everything We Know About Stephen King’s Castle Rock So Far
Originally published on The Stephen King Universe.
Out of the clear blue sky, on February 17, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions dropped a bombshell. The bombshell was a teaser trailer for a new streaming Hulu series called Castle Rock. The marketing behind this was positively brilliant.
The basic idea is this:
- Get the name out there
- Don’t say too much
- Get people talking
And it worked. The trailer has been viewed nearly 1.2 MILLION times on the Bad Robot Productions channel on YouTube alone. This doesn’t account for it being viewed on other channels or other websites.
The Stephen King fanbase collectively said, “holy shit.”
Now let’s take an in-depth look at everything we know so far.
1. We know there’s a trailer.
Dammit! I already told you that. Well, here it is anyway (it all starts with this trailer):
I can’t say enough about the hype that this trailer delivers. Name dropping Pennywise, as well as characters from The Shining, The Shawshank Redemption, ‘Salem’s Lot, and Misery will get Stephen King fans excited.
2. We know that there’s at least 68 Stephen King references in the Castle Rock trailer
Birth Movies Death absolutely killed it with a complete list of every Stephen King reference packed into the trailer. That amounts to about one reference per second. The written works referenced include:
- Dolores Claiborne
- Needful Things
- ‘Salem’s Lot
- The Shawshank Redemption
- The Mangler
- The Green Mile
- Hearts in Atlantis
- The Shining
- The Sun Dog
- The Night Flier
They also pointed out that there weren’t any references directly related to The Dark Tower, except for the Low Men in Yellow Coats.
Outside of The Dark Tower being left out (probably a wise move), this emphasizes the breadth of possible stories that can be told with these characters.
3. Filming is supposed to begin this August
Inquisitr.com reported back in March that filming would begin this August, but that has not been widely reported yet. Even if it had been, the start of filming is always subject to change.
4. Hulu officially ordered the first ten episodes
Deadline.com reported soon after the initial teaser trailer dropped that Hulu ordered the first season of Castle Rock — a total of ten episodes.
5. Stephen King and J.J. Abrams go way back… to 11.22.63 (see what I did there?)
This is not the first time Stephen King and J.J. Abrams have worked together. Abrams was the executive producer on all eight episodes of another King series on Hulu, 11.22.63. This was an adaptation of King’s 2011 novel 11/22/63.
6. Stephen King and Castle Rock go way back… to 1973
The first Castle Rock story I am aware of is It Grows On You from way back in 1973. Marshroots Magazine originally published the story in its Fall 1973 issue. It was later collected with revisions in Nightmares & Dreamscapes in 1993.
7. It’s not likely to be a direct adaptation of any Stephen King work
According to a Hulu press release back on February 17:
A psychological-horror series set in the Stephen King multiverse, Castle Rock combines the mythological scale and intimate character storytelling of King’s best-loved works, weaving an epic saga of darkness and light, played out on a few square miles of Maine woodland. The fictional Maine town of Castle Rock has figured prominently in King’s literary career: Cujo, The Dark Half, IT and Needful Things, as well as novella The Body and numerous short stories such as Rita Hayworth and The Shawshank Redemption are either set there or contain references to Castle Rock. Castle Rock is an original suspense/thriller — a first-of-its-kind reimagining that explores the themes and worlds uniting the entire King canon, while brushing up against some of his most iconic and beloved stories.
Now that is one hell of a pitch. But not everybody is sold on this. Another King fan blogger, Bryant Burnette wrote:
That just sounds like fanfiction to me. I can probably read some yahoo’s 1600-page manuscript of that right now, somewhere on the forums where stuff like that is posted.
The excitement I perceive among fandom seems to be based on the notion that this series is going to tie together multiple King stories and characters, and thereby present to the viewing audience (and the world at large) a King multiverse like the one that exists in his bibliography. For all I know, it will end up being exactly that.
But consider this: King himself has never really seen fit to do such a thing. Instead, he’s built his multiverse one brick at a time, and it is composed largely of individual pieces that have coalesced to form a whole. The individual pieces came first, and were seemingly by far the more important consideration; the fact that they were stacked in such a way as to form a whole seems to me to have been a secondary goal.
On the surface, Castle Rock would seem to be an inverse of that equation: this is a case of J.J. Abrams, Hulu, and whoever else is involved deciding that what they want to do is build a house using King-shaped bricks. They are likely then looking around to see what bricks they have on hand, and will fill in the gaps with whatever they can wedge in. This does not sound like a house in which one can expect to live safely.
I can appreciate Burnette’s skepticism about this, but I’m on board with this with on one condition: that it be good.
I was okay with Stanley Kubrick straying far off the reservation with his loose adaptation of The Shining because it was good.
I was okay with the Coen Brothers’ Fargo being transitioned into multiple and almost wholly unrelated seasons of television because it’s a great show.
And I’ll be thrilled with Castle Rock if it’s good, while at the same time at least having some respect for the source material.
8. It is likely to contain a lot of very well-known Stephen King characters
No doubt. From all that is above, we know that already. The teaser makes this clear. Where this show is bound to get interesting is when characters who have never interacted before do so. Will Danny Torrance somehow interact with Pennywise or Annie Wilkes? It’s all up in the air, and it’s pretty exciting.
9. J.J. Abrams is the reigning king of reviving franchises
Stephen King fans had mixed feelings about 11.22.63 as a television series. A lot of fans, myself included, felt that the novel was better. I also understand that Abrams is only a producer of Castle Rock, but his involvement gives me some degree of comfort that this will be good. In my opinion, he worked wonders with Star Wars and Star Trek.
10. Producers and Writers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason are experienced in TV
No word yet on who is directing, but writers Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason already have a good deal of experience in television. Their prior work includes Manhattan (WGN), Lie to Me (FOX), and The Evidence (ABC).
11. The marketing is brilliant
Whether you agree or disagree with me so far, there is no doubt that the marketing is brilliant. Merely dropping a trailer like that into a sea of Stephen King fans is a great move. It gets people talking. It makes people like me write articles like this.
If you like what I’m doing here at The Stephen King Universe, sign up for our email list. The box to use is right at the top of your page. I promise not to bombard you with promotions. I send out no more than one email per week. If giving out your email is too much commitment, I get it. You could also like our page on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Instagram (I know — it’s a lot of social media).