A year has gone by since Warner Bros. removed Salem’s Lot from their release schedule. Why has the film been shelved?
In September of 2021, writer/director Gary Dauberman went into production on a new adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel Salem’s Lot (buy a copy of the novel HERE), which has previously been brought to the screen as two separate three hour mini-series; once in 1979, and again in 2004. Dauberman’s Salem’s Lot was once set to reach theatres on September 9, 2022, but then Warner Bros. decided to push it back seven months due to “COVID-related delays in the post-production realm” soon after it underwent some reshoots in the spring of 2022. Then, on August 24, 2022, Warner Bros. announced that Salem’s Lot was losing its April 21, 2023 release date to Evil Dead Rise. In a week, that will have been exactly one year ago – and yet Warner Bros. has never announced another release date for the film. For an entire year, Salem’s Lot has been effectively shelved, and there’s no sign of it making its way out into the world.
Why is Warner Bros. sitting on Salem’s Lot? It’s not exactly clear. Sure, they have been busy releasing plenty of other movies in 2023 – in addition to Evil Dead Rise, their releases have included Creed III, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Barbie, and Meg 2: The Trench. But that still doesn’t give any excuse for why Salem’s Lot doesn’t have a release date somewhere on their slate. They have Blue Beetle coming up this Friday. The Nun 2 on September 8. Dune: Part Two on November 3. October is wide open and would be an ideal month to release Salem’s Lot, even though it would be going up against Universal’s Exorcist: The Believer and Five Nights at Freddy’s, as well as Lionsgate’s Saw X.
The delay doesn’t seem to be an indication of Salem’s Lot’s quality, because there have been at least two test screenings of the movie that have gone over quite well. (You can get information from this YouTube report of a test screening reaction.) The biggest complaint I’ve seen is that the movie favors jump scares over character development – which I can’t say is surprising. Dauberman’s Salem’s Lot reportedly has a running time of 113 minutes, and it would have been a difficult task to condense King’s story into that much time and still include a ton of character work. Plus, if you know Dauberman’s previous works (he was written the Annabelle movies and The Nun, worked on the recent It films, and directed Annabelle Comes Home), you know he loves jump scares. So it was a given that Salem’s Lot would be filled with the jumps.
Making Warner Bros’ apparent lack of interest in releasing Salem’s Lot even stranger is the fact that they were excited enough about it to show an early trailer to CinemaCon attendees back in April of 2022. But that excitement seems to have faded, and they never bothered to share that trailer online. The only bit of promotion we’ve seen, the only image that has been released from the film, graces the cover of a movie tie-in edition of King’s novel.
With the one year anniversary of Salem’s Lot losing its last release date coming up, here’s hoping that Warner Bros. will be breaking their silence on the film very soon.
Dauberman’s take on Salem’s Lot is said to be set in 1975, the same year King’s novel was first published. Here’s the synopsis: Haunted by an incident from his childhood, author Ben Mears returns to his hometown of Jerusalem’s Lot in search of inspiration for his next book, only to discover the town is being preyed upon by a bloodthirsty vampire and his loyal servant.
The film stars Lewis Pullman (Top Gun: Maverick) as Ben Mears; Makenzie Leigh (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk) as Ben’s love interest Susan Norton; Spencer Treat Clark (The Town That Dreaded Sundown 2014) as Mike Ryerson, “one of the town’s simple folk”; Bill Camp (12 Years a Slave) as Matthew Burke, “a former high school English teacher who knows about the Marsten House’s evil past and helps out Ben”; Alfre Woodard (Star Trek: First Contact) as Dr. Cody; Pilou Asbæk (Game of Thrones) as the vampire’s familiar Richard Straker; and John Benjamin Hickey (Hostiles) as Father Callahan. William Sadler (Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey) is also in the cast, but it was never officially revealed who he’s playing. Alexander Ward (American Horror Story) might show up as the vampire Kurt Barlow.
Are you looking forward to Dauberman’s Salem’s Lot? Let us know by leaving a comment below.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/salems-lot-shelved/