Mr. Harrigan’s phone director John Lee Hancock reveals that Stephen King was deeply involved in this particular film adaptation of his work. Mr. Harrigan’s phone premiered on Netflix on October 5 and is a film adaptation of King’s novella of the same name by his When it bleeds collection. The horror film follows a boy named Craig (Jaden Martell) after he befriends an older man named Mr. Harrigan (Donald Sutherland), who presents him with a phone. After Mr. Harrigan passes away, Craig continues to use the phone and call Mr. Harrigan’s old number to vent his concerns. He soon finds out that the ghost of Mr. Harrigan still receives his calls after the grave.
Mr. Harrigan’s phone is the latest King adaptation to hit screens. King has written 65 novels and countless short stories, mostly in the horror genre. Over the decades, his work has led to countless film and TV adaptations, as filmmakers draw inspiration from his brilliant stories. King is often honest about his feelings for the projects based on his works. Some of them like The shiningKing hated for discrepancies from his work. Menawhile, others, such as Stay with meearned his approval and praise. Mr. Harrigan’s phone is a film that got its feedback during production.
In an interview with screen frenzyHancock reveals that King was very involved in the development of Mr. Harrigan’s phone. Hancock took advantage of this and consulted and got King’s approval or input on various aspects of the film, such as the script and locations. Watch his statement below:
Very involved. He wanted to get out of the way and let me do my thing, but he let me know he was there for me, so I started taking advantage of that. When I finished the script, we sent it to Stephen, and it’s like, “Oh, I hope he likes it,” because he can just give us a thumbs down, and we’re done. But he loved the script. And from that point on we had an email and phone relationship that was really, really helpful and wonderful.
We’d look at locations and I could send him something and say, “Which of these two looks like Howie’s Market? Because you made up the name Howie’s Market, and you had something in mind when you wrote it. Which one of these?” And he’d say, “I think the one on the left with the red. I think that’s more like what I thought.” Okay great. We have Stephen’s approval for this location.
King’s involvement suggests good things for Mr Harrigan’s phone
King’s increased involvement suggested good things for Mr. Harrigan’s phone. When an author is heavily involved in the filming of his work, expectations for the project generally become higher. Most assume that the author’s involvement means that the adaptation will be more in line with the source material and thus will resonate well with fans of the original work. In some adaptations of King, such as the recent remake of fire starter, which failed both critically and commercially, it is easy to see how deviations from the source material have caused many of its shortcomings. Perhaps King’s feedback could have given the filmmakers a better idea of what fire starter should have looked like.
An author’s involvement in a project is undeniably valuable, although it’s not a surefire way to make an adaptation succeed. Movies like The shining, which did not take full advantage of King’s involvement and also received disapproval from him, have been received even more favorably over time. Meanwhile, early reviews for Mr. Harrigan’s phone have been mixed to negative so far. The most common complaint, though, is that it’s more of a coming-of-age story than a terrifying horror movie. It remains to be seen what fans think of the original King book Mr. Harrigan’s phone and how King’s involvement affected it.
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