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Lionsgate Picks Up Stephen King’s ‘The Long Walk’ with Francis Lawrence Attached to Direct (Exclusive)

The Long Walk has new spring in its step as Lionsgate is now behind a big-screen adaptation of the Stephen King book.

Lionsgate has picked up the rights to the 1979 dystopian novel, with Francis Lawrence in final talks to direct. JT Mollner will pen the script. The move puts Lawrence back in business with Lionsgate, for whom he directed The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, which is currently in theaters and has grossed more than $200 million globally.

Roy Lee is producing Long Walk with Lawrence.

New Line was previously developing the project with director André Øvredal and a script from James Vanderbilt before the rights lapsed in the summer of 2022. Now Lionsgate will begin anew with its own take.

“When you have enjoyed the strong creative collaboration and success that we have had working with Francis, you want to repeat that experience as much as possible,” said Joe Drake, chair of the Lionsgate Motion Picture Group. “We couldn’t be more excited about reuniting with him on The Long Walk.  He is a truly unparalleled talent.”

First published under the author’s pseudonym Richard Bachman, The Long Walk centers on an annual contest in which 100 teen boys embark on the punishing titular journey that involves strict stipulations (they must walk at least four miles an hour) and ends with only one survivor. Over the years, such filmmakers as George A. Romero and Frank Darabont had eyed the project.

The book’s influence can be felt in later works, including Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games novel series. This makes Lawrence an appropriate fit, given that he helmed the franchise’s 2013 sequel The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and the subsequent Mockingjay two-parter. Lawrence returned to Panem with the recent prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes, which stars Tom Blyth, Rachel Zegler and Peter Dinklage and has topped the domestic box office in its first two weekends.

Lawrence — whose other previous titles include Red Sparrow (2018) and Slumberland (2022) — confirmed his involvement in The Long Walk during a recent interview with Business Insider. Additionally, he has been developing sequels to his movies Constantine (2005) and I Am Legend (2007) and is attached to Netflix’s live-action adaptation of video game franchise BioShock.

Mollner wrote and directed the 2016 indie Western film Outlaws and Angels that starred Chad Michael Murray and Luke Wilson.

Meredith Wieck and Erin Jones-Wesley will oversee The Long Walk for Lionsgate. Lawrence is repped by CAA, 3 Arts, and Hansen Jacobson while Mollner is repped by UTA, World Builder Entertainment and Jackoway Austen.

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