Netflix's Top 10 lists have a lot of Stephen King this weekend -- especially considering that the author doesn't have anything new out right now. Two film adaptations of King's work are on the Top 10 Movies list on Netflix at the time of this writing. It is at number 8 while The Mist is at number 3.
It is one of the most popular and instantly recognizable King titles in the world, probably in part because it has been adapted twice already. The 2017 adaptation is on Netflix's list this weekend, which makes sense because it features several cast members from Stranger Things. As fans wait eagerly for the next batch of episodes, they can enjoy a movie that has some of the same actors and was one of the major inspirations for the story.
Meanwhile, The Mist is a 2007 film adaptation of King's novella published in 1980. It is a sci-fi horror story about a young family in a remote town in Maine trying to survive an attack by otherworldly monsters. This was the first out of two adaptations of this story -- the second aired on Spike in 2017 and ran for just one season.
It's less clear why The Mist is trending right now for those that like to speculate about these kinds of patterns. It was adapted into a screenplay and directed by Frank Darabont -- the same filmmaker who wrote and directed The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. It stars Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Laurie Holden, Andre Braugher, Toby Jones, William Sadler, Jeffrey DeMunn, Frances Sternhagen, Sam Witwer, Alexa Davalos an Nathan Gamble, among others.
The movie is infamous for completely changing the ending of the story. Fair warning for spoilers: in King's novella, the fates of several characters are more ambiguous and the ending is more hopeful, with the hero and his young son driving south in search of help. In Darabont's movie, nearly all of the characters die in the end -- most of them moments before humanitarian aid arrives, leaving the hero to live with the harsh knowledge that he could have saved them.
King is a fan of Darabont's changes. He told USA Today in 2007: "The ending is such a jolt-wham! It's frightening. But people who go to see a horror movie don't necessarily want to be sent out with a Pollyanna ending." However, critics and audiences tended to rank the movie with more medium reviews, and some questioned why Darabont changed the ending so drastically.
Both It (2017) and The Mist are streaming now on Netflix. If you watch them soon you can be sure that plenty of other people will have watched them recently too, judging by Netflix's Top 10 lists.