Stephen King has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts since the smash hit of IT Part 1. Between remakes of The Stand and new adaptations of his work on Hulu, it was only a matter of time before even more of his notable titles started getting remakes. The latest is another big-screen adaptation of Firestarter, which was initially published in 1980. The first movie adaptation of the book has gone on to become a cult classic of the genre. Now, Blumhouse (the company behind Get Out) is taking it on, with Zac Efron attached to star. But Zac Efron's Firestarter remake could have a different angle than the original novel or film.
Firestarter's first film adaptation was released in 1984 and starred a young Drew Barrymore, fresh off her rise to superstardom in 1982's ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. It was an ambitious idea to bring to the screen; the story centered around a young girl, Charlene "Charlie" McGee. Her parents, Andy and Vicky, participated in government experiments while in college, dosed with a drug known as LOT-6. Most participants merely had low-grade trips, but Vicky and Andy developed telepathy, an ability they've worked hard to hide. But when Charlie begins to develop pyrokinesis as she enters her pre-teen years, their secret becomes a danger to all.
Barrymore was eight years old when she filmed this, a role that required a child prodigy to pull off. That makes Blumhouse Pictures' decision to declare Efron the headliner of the project an interesting twist. If Charlie is not the star of the film, who is?
In the original story, when the Department of Scientific Intelligence ("The Shop"), who conducted the initial experiments, get wind of Charlie's abilities, they descend on the house, killing Vicky and kidnapping Charlie. Andy is left to rescue his daughter alone, using his hidden skills, and taking the child on the run. But as Andy's powers begin to decrease, they are recaptured by The Shop's Captain James Hollister and assassin John Rainbird. Both Hollister and Rainbird are evil men, hellbent on discovering Andy's secrets and weaponizing Charlie for the battlefield.
Most assume Efron will take the role of Andy, Charlie's father. But the press release announcing his casting does not specify what role Efron has agreed to play. The actor has veered off the traditional Hollywood leading man path before, taking on roles such as Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Instead, he could be playing one of these government agents, changing the film's focus from a horror family tragedy to a terrifying government conspiracy.
There is no date yet for Firestarter's release, but it's a good bet viewers won't see it until at least 2022.