Darabont's in King's domain

Dimension Films will turn Stephen King novella “The Mist” into a horror film, which Frank Darabont will direct from his own script.

Thomas Jane is in talks to be part of the ensemble cast.

Darabont, whose biggest hits were the King adaptations “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile,” has long been enshrouded in “The Mist.”

King entrusted the rights to him several years ago, when Darabont had a first-look deal at Paramount. Darabont is in the final stages of reclaiming rights to his script.

“It’s a project Stephen King and I have been talking about doing for almost 20 years now,” Darabont said. “In fact, it almost was my first directing project many years ago, but I went classy and did “The Shawshank Redemption” instead.  It’s time to get down and dirty and make a nasty little character-driven gut-punch horror movie.”

Dimension co-chairman Bob Weinstein and production president Richard Saperstein have set a spring production start for the film, which Darabont will produce with Castle Rock’s Martin Shafer and Liz Glotzer. The latter steered “Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.”

Published in 1985 as part of King’s short story collection “Skeleton Crew,” “The Mist” takes place in a small town where a thick mist engulfs the area, killing those caught in its darkness. Terrified survivors seek refuge in a supermarket, while a swarm of murderous critters tries to get in.

Weinstein cited that dual fright dynamic as his prime attraction to the project.

“I’m a fan of films like ‘Saw,’ ‘Wolf Creek’ and ‘Hostel,’ but when I started Dimension, Stephen King and his ability to create real character-based thrills in ‘Misery,’ ‘Carrie’ and ‘The Shining’ was an inspiration for the kind of films I wanted to make,” Weinstein said. “This is a great opportunity to get one of those classic properties and to work with Frank, who handles Stephen’s work so well.”

Weinstein now has three films based on King fiction. Dimension has wrapped “1408,” based on King’s short story, with Samuel L. Jackson and John Cusack starring. “Hostel” helmer Eli Roth is working on an adaptation of “Cell,” King’s bestseller about a cell phone signal that makes zombies of everyone gabbing on mobiles at a particular cataclysmic moment in time.

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