‘Firestarter’: The Stephen King adaptation that was nominated for a Razzie
(Credits: Universal Pictures)


'Firestarter': The Stephen King adaptation that was nominated for a Razzie

There’s always a Stephen King adaptation lurking around the corner on film or television, and it’s already reached a point where they’re starting to be remade, with the prolific author’s back catalogue continuing to be one of Hollywood’s most popular and prolific subgenres.

Whereas most folks will welcome Mike Flanagan’s in-development episodic reboot of The Dark Tower because the first one was such a flaming dumpster fire of missed opportunity, it’s hard to believe that anybody was desperately crying out for a new spin on Firestarter.

Journeyman director Mark L. Lester’s 1984 original was a very modest success at the box office after releasing in 1984, but it does boast a stellar cast that includes Drew Barrymore as pyrokinetic terror Charlie McGee, with distinguished support coming from Oscar winners George C. Scott and Art Carney, as well as Martin Sheen and Heather Locklear.

Admittedly, remaking one of the most forgettable page-to-screen translations of King’s work was hardly the most egregious sin in the world, and there was cautious optimism after Firestarter V2.0 assembled a decent roster of its own in 2022. Zac Efron led the line, with horror veteran Scott Teems on scriptwriting duties and powerhouse production company Blumhouse backing the project.

Potentially knowing it had another turd on its hands, Universal decided to debut Firestarter simultaneously on streaming and in cinemas in May 2022, which at least gave the company an excuse when it flopped at the box office. However, the reactions were nothing short of scathing, but that was nothing compared to the backlash when the Golden Raspberry Award nominations were announced.

Ryan Kiera Armstrong found herself among the nominees for ‘Worst Actress’ for her performance, even though she was only 12 years old. Inevitably and completely understandably, there was a huge backlash to the organisation shortlisting a child and naming them among the worst actors of the preceding 12 months, which spurred the Razzies into action.

In addition to withdrawing Armstrong’s ‘Worst Actress’ nod, the ceremony altered its rulebook to ensure that nobody under the age of 18 was even eligible to be nominated. It was a small step towards respectability, but the damage had already been done after the Razzies were deservedly blasted for mounting what was effectively a bullying campaign against a kid.

Firestarter was entirely deserving of its presence among the contenders for ‘Worst Sequel, Remake, or Rip-Off’, though, even if it didn’t claim the trophy. Going head-to-head with Andrew Dominik’s controversial biopic Blonde, Netflix’s erotically-charged follow-ups 365 Days: This Day and The Next 365 Days, and giant locust blockbuster Jurassic World Dominion, the competition was fierce.

In the end, Tom Hanks and Robert Zemeckis’ diabolical live-action update of Pinocchio took top honours, leaving Firestarter to be quickly forgotten among the raft of substandard King adaptations.