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Firestarter: Everything You Need to KnowheroImage

Firestarter: Everything You Need to Know

2/4/2022 • 4 min read

We've reached the stage of Stephen King film adaptations where his earliest novels are being re-adapted. This year will see a new movie version of "'Salem's Lot," for starters. And even before that October release, we'll also enjoy a new adaptation of the novel "Firestarter," in which a young girl manifests a talent for creating and controlling fire. (The title of the story was probably kind of a giveaway there.)

The new FIRESTARTER movie is a chance for filmmakers to have a new crack at a story that was previously the source for a not-particularly inspired 1984 movie starring a young Drew Barrymore. Jason Blum (THE INVISIBLE MAN, THE PURGE) is producing, with Zac Efron co-starring as the girl's father. Here's the first new FIRESTARTER trailer, and everything we know about the movie.

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The Firestarter Release Date

FIRESTARTER opens on May 13.

Watch the First Firestarter Trailer

This first FIRESTARTER trailer gets all the big ideas across: Young Charlie McGee has some ability to generate fire, but her control of the power is imperfect, which complicates the fact that some nebulous "they" out in the world are interested in what she can do. Factor in the more prosaic difficulties of adolescence and Charlie is primed to explode.

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What Is Firestarter About?

We covered most of the important details just above, but here's an official description of the story:

For more than a decade, parents Andy and Vicky have been on the run, desperate to hide their daughter Charlie from a shadowy federal agency that wants to harness her unprecedented gift for creating fire into a weapon of mass destruction. Andy has taught Charlie how to defuse her power, which is triggered by anger or pain. But as Charlie turns 11, the fire becomes harder and harder to control. After an incident reveals the family's location, a mysterious operative is deployed to hunt down the family and seize Charlie once and for all. Charlie has other plans.

The movie is based on Stephen King's novel, originally published in 1980. In the book, Andy and Vicky have their own powers which were acquired by participating in a drug test. The trailer suggests that may still be the case, as a few shots look to be flashbacks to their clinical trial. Charlie was born with her powers as an inherent gift, thanks to the changes wrought in her mom and dad. While Andy and Vicky can only use their powers sparingly and with great effort, Charlie's potential is significantly greater.

A Real-Life Superhero?

Stephen King's original novel, and the movie FIRESTARTER which followed, were part of a wave of almost-superhero stories from the late '70s and early '80s that also includes Brian De Palma's movie THE FURY and David Cronenberg's SCANNERS. They all feature people who have strong psychic powers obtained either naturally or through experimental drug trials — and they all feel like prototype X-Men movies.

The new FIRESTARTER trailer explicitly positions the movie as being a sort of superhero story. The director has said that this will be a different version from the 1980s movie, but "still very very true to what I see as the core of that novel, the very emotional core."

"I'm excited about doing a different, a new adaptation of the book," he later said, "and getting into some things that the [1984] film didn't – some things that I think are kind of core to what the book is. … We're living in a different era than the early '80s, and I think there's a lot of stuff to explore in it that King obviously is hinting at throughout the book that I don't see as much in the original film that I think we can really dive into."

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The Firestarter Cast

Ryan Kiera Armstrong ("American Horror Story") is too young to be a big star at this point, but she looks great in the title role of Charlie McGee. Meanwhile, Zac Efron (THE GREATEST SHOWMAN) takes a more adult role than usual to play her protective father, Andy, while Sydney Lemmon ("Fear the Walking Dead") plays her mother Vicky.

Charlie is hunted by a government contract man named John Rainbird, and the terrific Michael Greyeyes takes the role here. (In the original movie, the character was played by George C. Scott.) Kurtwood Smith, John Beasley, and Gloria Reuben are also in the cast.

You Won't Believe Who Is Doing the Firestarter Score

FIRESTARTER producer Jason Blum is bringing some talent to this adaptation from one of his other big projects: The HALLOWEEN series. Horror legend John Carpenter is writing the new FIRESTARTER score alongside Cody Carpenter and Daniel Davies, his partners on the recent HALLOWEEN film scores.

Having a great electronic score is part of the FIRESTARTER legacy. One of the best aspects of the original movie is a terrific musical suite by pioneering electronic band Tangerine Dream. Indeed, Carpenter is also part of the original movie's story, as he was once in line to direct that original adaptation.

The New Firestarter Director

Speaking of FIRESTARTER directors, this new movie is made by Keith Thomas, who recently made the small, excellent horror movie THE VIGIL. That one is centered on a Jewish man who, despite being estranged from his community, agrees to spend a night standing vigil over a recently deceased person — only to discover he's not alone.

Thomas's work on THE VIGIL was restrained, creepy, and effective. For FIRESTARTER, he's working from a script by Scott Teems, who wrote and directed the excellent indie THAT EVENING SUN, and is also co-writing HALLOWEEN KILLS.


FIRESTARTER opens on May 13.


All images courtesy of Universal Pictures.

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