More than a year has passed since Warner Bros. has removed Salem’s Lot from its release schedule. Why was the film shelved?
In September 2021, writer/director Gary Dauberman entered production on a new adaptation of Stephen Kingthe novel Salem Field (purchase a copy of the novel HERE), which has already been brought to the screen as two separate three-hour mini-series; once in 1979, then again in 2004. Salem Field was originally scheduled to hit theaters on September 9, 2022, but Warner Bros. then decided to push it back seven months due to “COVID-related delays in post-production” shortly after undergoing a few reshoots in spring 2022. Then, on August 24, 2022, Warner Bros. announced that Salem Field lost its release date of April 21, 2023 in favor of Rise of the Evil Dead. That was over a year ago – and yet Warner Bros. never announced a release date for the film. For a whole year, Salem Fielda highly anticipated horror title for 2023, has been effectively shelved, and there are no signs of it making its way into the world.
Why Warner Bros. Salem Field? It’s not entirely clear. Of course, they’ve been busy releasing plenty of other films in 2023 – in addition to Rise of the Evil Deadtheir releases include Creed III, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Barbie, And Meg 2: The Trench. But that still gives no excuse as to why Salem Field doesn’t have a release date anywhere on its slate. In general, horror has performed well at the box office, with X saw earning rave reviews and making more money than the franchise’s later films. The Exorcist: Believerdespite poor reviews, also performed quite well, even against box office heavyweight Taylor Swift Tour of the eras movie. Five Nights at Freddy’s I got terrible reviews, but it was still a record. What’s even more astonishing about the delay is that the T written by Daubermanhe nun II was a box office heavyweight. So why isn’t WB publishing Salem Field? With no big stars in the cast, this seems like the perfect movie to release during a SAG strike.
The delay does not appear to be an indication of Salem Lot quality, because there were at least two test screenings of the film which went rather well. (You can get information from this YouTube Report from a test screening reaction.) The biggest complaint I’ve seen is that the film favors scares over character development – which I can’t say is surprising. by Dauberman Salem Field would have a running time of 113 minutes, and it would have been a difficult task to condense King’s story into that much time while still including a ton of character work. Additionally, if you are familiar with Dauberman’s previous work (he wrote the Annabelle movies and The nun, worked on the recent He films and directed Annabelle comes home), you know he loves scares. It was therefore obvious that Salem Field would be filled with jumps.
Stephen King himself shared his opinion (mostly positive) about the film, writing on his X account that “The Warner Bros remake of SALEM’S LOT, currently shelved, is muscular and involving. It feels like “Old Hollywood,” when a film had a chance to catch its breath before getting down to business. In other words, when the attention span was longer. It feels like a horror movie version of slow burn films like THE GREAT ESCAPE. It builds very well. There are twists on the book that I don’t agree with, but overall, faithful. Best scene: Danny Glick in the hospital, trying to retrieve a blood bag. The Glick scene could have been done by John Carpenter in his prime.“
Which explains Warner Bros’ apparent lack of interest in the release Salem Field even stranger is the fact that they were sufficiently excited about the first footage from CinemaCon attendees at the time. April 2022. But that enthusiasm seems to have faded and they never bothered to share this trailer online. The only promotion we’ve seen, the only image that’s been released from the film, graces the cover of a film-related edition of King’s novel.
A rumor recently surfaced that Warner Bros. release the film on the streaming service Max. According to a recent Variety report, “A source with knowledge of the back-and-forth says the move doesn’t reflect the quality of the film but is because the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike has created a growing need for Max content. Salem Field is one of the few Warner Bros. films. reputed to make the jump. But a Warner Bros. spokesperson said. said: “No decisions have been made regarding future distribution plans for the film.”
This is found in a Deadline report on the WB’s decision to abandon the Looney Tunes movie Coyote vs. Acme, making it a tax deduction. Deadline writes: “There has been buzz around the fact that the feature film directed by Gary Dauberman and produced by James Wan would take on Stephen King’s film. Salem Field, once intended for theatrical release, goes to Max because the streamer needs product due to inventory deficits created by strikes. Warners said about Salem Field that the jury is still out and its leaders have not yet determined the fate of the vampire photo. Still, King is a box office brand, and this is one of his classics. And horror works vibrantly at the post-pandemic BO. Granted, a box office opening of a minimum of $10 million isn’t the worst thing in the world for a movie that will be released on Max, but it comes down to whether Warners wants to shell out $40 million in marketing costs.“So no one knows. Rather than spending $40 million on marketing, maybe they’ll just decide to scrap this one and use it for a tax deduction as well. This would not be a surprising decision for the current WB regime. I don’t agree with this “scrapping for a tax deduction” tactic at all, but they seem to like doing it.
More than a year has passed since Salem Field lost its last release date, we hope Warner Bros. will make a solid decision regarding the distribution of the film very soon.
Dauberman’s view Salem Field would be set in 1975, the same year King’s novel was first published. Here is the summary : Haunted by an incident from his childhood, author Ben Mears returns to his hometown of Jerusalem Lot in search of inspiration for his next book, only to discover that the town is prey to a vampire thirsty for blood and his faithful servant..
The film stars Lewis Pullman (Top Gun: Maverick) like Ben Mears; Makenzie Leigh (Billy Lynn’s long walk at halftime) as Ben’s love interest, Susan Norton; Spencer treats Clark (The city that dreaded sunset 2014) as Mike Ryerson, “one of the simple people in town”; Bill Camp (12 years of slavery) as Matthew Burke, “a former high school English teacher who knows about Marsten House’s bad past and helps Ben”; Alfred Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact) as Dr. Cody; Pilou Asbaek (Game Of Thrones) as the vampire’s familiar Richard Straker; and John Benjamin Hickey (Hostiles) like Father Callahan. William Sadler (Bill and Ted’s fake trip) is also part of the cast, but it has never been officially revealed who he is playing. Alexander Ward (American horror story) could introducing himself as the vampire Kurt Barlow.
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