There are changes afoot for a new Stephen King adaptation being driven by J.J. Abrams. Once destined for television, ‘Billy Summers’ will now become a movie, according to Deadline.
Published in 2021, ‘Billy Summers’ is one of the few titles written by King not designed to scare the living daylights out of his readers (unless your particular phobia is hitman doing one last job), and in fact falls into crime thriller territory.
Never heard of it? Here’s your basic synopsis… Billy Summers is a hitman who is looking to retire and takes one last highly lucrative job to fill his bank balance. The job requires him to embed himself in a quiet town, where he pretends to be an aspiring writer (wonder if King had to do much research for that one).
He sets up in an office with a direct view of where hitman Joel Allen will be delivered to face trial for shooting two men during a poker game. Allen also has committed enough murders for some high-level mobsters to be scared the gunman will incriminate his former employers to lessen his sentence. Summers, a meticulous craftsman, becomes more and more cynical about the mobsters who’ve hired him, and his skepticism is well warranted as things go awry following the job’s completion.
How awry? Let’s expand on the story. When the regular client doesn’t pay, Summers escapes a trap. His life gets even more complicated when he finds out there’s a bounty on his life and he saves a rape victim named Alice. Summers and the woman end up on a cross-country journey to rectify the hit’s many wrongs.
Clearly Abrams is still happy to keep making projects based on King’s work, with his Bad Robot company having previously produced ‘Lisey’s Story’, ‘Castle Rock’ and ‘11.22.63’. As it stands now, the company is producing alongside Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way. Which means that should all involved be happy with the script, Abrams may take the director’s chair with DiCaprio starring.
Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz are on script duty for this one, which, as we mentioned at the top of the story, was originally destined for TV (the writers make sense, since despite having moved on to successful movie careers, made their names working on the small screen likes of ‘Thirtysomething’.
Bad Robot originally envisioned this as a 10-episode series, with Zwick and Herskovitz running the show and Zwick directing several of the resulting installments.
But after it was packaged up and shopped to networks and streaming services in 2021, the team decided it might work better as a movie, and now Warner Bros. (where Abrams still has a deal) has nabbed the rights and the creative team ready to develop the movie.