J.J. Abrams Returns to Movies Billy Summers  

J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot banner have teamed up with Warner Bros. for the feature adaptation of Billy Summers, a very recent Stephen King novel that was published in 2021.

Appian Way will also produce the project, which is being written by Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz.

A year ago the project was in the works as a limited series from Abrams’ Bad Robot banner. At the time, Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz were attached to adapt, with Zwick eying to direct a good portion of the episodes, if not all.

Not one of King’s horror novels, Summers focuses on a 44-year old hitman, the eponymously titled Billy Summers, who is ready to retire when he takes up one last job from a regular client. (“One last job” is always synonymous with “things go awry,” but we’ll get to that in a moment.) Taking up a cover story that he is a novelist,  Summers ensconces himself into a small-town as he prep for the hit, and in his spare time actually begins to write a novel, which turns into his life story, from his little sister being killed by their mother’s boyfriend to him becoming a decorated sniper.

The hit goes awry when the regular client doesn’t pay and Summers escapes a trap. His life gets even more complicated when he finds out there’s a bounty on his life and he saves a rape victim named Alice. Summer and the woman end up on a cross-country journey to rectify the hit’s many wrongs.

The book was critically well-received upon its release.

It is unclear if Abrams would direct this film. As a features director, Abrams has almost exclusively hewed toward established properties. He made his feature debut with Mission: Impossible III (2006), the Tom Cruise film that helped revitalized the franchise after the previous installment was poorly received six years earlier. Abrams then pivoted to relaunched the Star Trek galaxy with the 2009 reboot that starred Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto. He directed the Spielbergian passion project, and his only original movie, Super 8 (2011) before helming Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013).

Before Into Darkness arrived in theaters, he surprised Hollywood by signing on to relaunch the galaxy far, far away with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the 2015 film that reinigorated the franchise for a new generation and was a commercial and critical success. He returned to Star Wars one last time to close out the sequel trilogy with The Rise of Skywalker (2019), a film that while making more than $1 billion was not well received by hardcore fans nor critics, considering that Force Awakens made roughly double that just a few years earlier and received strong reviews.

In the years since Rise of Skywalker, Abrams has focused on television, the medium in which he made a name for himself with hits such as Felicity, Alias and Lost. As part of a massive overall deal with Abrams’ Bad Robot and Warners, he has been developing projects such as the pricey Demimonde, which was scrapped amid the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, as well as several DC projects. Many of those have been waylaid by the creation of DC Studios, run by James Gunn and Peter Safran, although his Black Superman project, being written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and on which he is a producer, remains in active development.

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