Book to Box Office: 11.22.63 – A Hulu eight-part miniseries
Based on: 11/22/63 by Stephen King
Expected release date: February 15th, 2015
Directed by: Kevin Macdonald
Summary: 11/22/63 is a science-fiction adventure romance about Jake Epping (James Franco), a high school English teacher, who travels back in time to prevent President John F. Kennedy from being shot by Lee Harvey Oswald.
Epping learns that the past doesn’t want to be changed, and because his time traveling portal doesn’t allow him to choose exactly when he travels back to, Epping must wait in the past for his time to act to on November 22nd. While waiting, Epping establishes a life in the past, complete with a lover named Sadie (Sarah Gadon), a job as a teacher, and a slew of good friends.
Working Against It: High concept means high risk. A quasi-historical story that revolves around time travel and reaches its peak exploring visions of an alternate past… You don’t need me to tell you all the ways that could go wrong. 11/22/63 will need concrete rules about its time travel. It’ll need believable actors to play figures such as JFK and Lee Harvey Oswald. Perhaps most importantly, it’ll call for elaborate, period-specific set and costume design. Time travel is undeniably tricky, and when you’re working with historical events, the importance to keep things believable and relatively factual is there.
Working For It: Luckily for filmmakers, this shouldn’t be a series about alternate histories, assassinations, or small-town crime. In that regard, viewers will probably let some of the fine points of history slide. More than anything, this should be a film about love, because that’s the kind of book it is. It’s not just a love story between Jake and Sadie, though that one’s at the heart of the story; it’s also about the love one can have for a time. For a town. For traditions and friends and for sharing a dance. 11/22/63 is packed full of sentiments like this one: “Home is watching the moon rise over the open, sleeping land and having someone you can call to the window, so you can look together. Home is where you dance with others, and dancing is life.” If Hulu can capture that, this miniseries has the potential to be something truly special.
Verdict: Will it make a good film?: Let’s take everything we know and throw it together. Will 11/22/63 make a good film? HELL YES IT WILL. And based on the source material, it’ll make an even better miniseries. King himself once said, “If I ever wrote a book that cries out for longform, event-TV programming, 11/22/63 is it.” This adaptation has everything going for it. It’s a gorgeous, full, uniquely fascinating novel. James Franco, who has the potential to be phenomenal is signed on as a character that, frankly, he makes a lot of sense playing. And JJ Abrams is involved. Hulu will have to try to screw this adaptation up.