The fate of Stephen King movie sequels

18 September '17 1 Comment on The fate of Stephen King movie sequels

I am putting the finishing touches on a big report into horror movies, due for release in the coming months.  One of the many things I looked at was horror adaptations and so I thought it would be fun to share a small part of what I found as it’s become rather topical.

A new adaptation of Stephen King’s It is currently doing great business in cinemas worldwide, leading Warner Brothers to start work on a sequel, entitled Chapter One.  Details are still few and far between, but as the current film only adapted half of the original novel, the plot and characters are already common knowledge.

Excitement for the sequel is high, but the history of Stephen King adaptations contains an ominous warning.  

Let’s start by looking at what projects come from Mr King’s stories and then look at how they fared.

What types of projects are adapted from Stephen King material?

Only a third of the projects based on Stephen King material are feature films.  A further 10% are TV series, with the remaining 57% being short films.  Stephen King has a scheme called ‘Dollar Babies‘ in which he allows film students to adapt one of his stories for just one dollar.  This only applies to stories which are not currently under option for feature films, which is currently 31 titles.  The news seems to have spread as IMDb currently lists 132 such short films.

Unsurprisingly, horror is the major genre for Stephen King movies, accounting for 57% of all films, both short and feature length.

How Stephen King horror films fare

If we narrow our focus to horror feature films, we can see an interesting trend.  Sequels and remakes of Stephen King material are almost always worse than the first movie, or the first adaptation. 

This is just a fun exploration of the fate of past Stephen King adaptations, not a prediction of what’s to come.  There’s no automatic reason why all sequels have to be worse than their originals and you could even argue that Chapter One isn’t a true sequel as it comes from the second half of the original source novel.  

Whatever your view, let’s hope the movie bucks the historic trend.


Any figures quoting 2017 are calculated up to today’s date, and so we can expect the number to rise before the year ends. The data primarily came from IMDb and Wikipedia, with the occasional other movie site to check information.  I counted each TV series once, rather than taking account of the number of episodes.




1 comment
  1. Hi Stephen,

    Hope you’re well, really enjoyed your article on 1 Mill $ film budget. Horror is not something
    I’ve taken too but I’m really looking forward to your forth coming article and the Stephen King story adaption
    is very interesting.

    Best Regards


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