Universal has optioned Locke & Key to develop as a feature film, and I have to say, I am incredibly excited. If you’ve never heard of it, Locke & Key is a comic book series by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez that has won multiple Eisner Awards and managed to hit the #1 spot on the New York Times Bestseller list. Hill, who is the son of Stephen King, won an Eisner for best writer, and the series has won the British Fantasy Award for best comic/graphic novel twice. I personally am a constant reader, and I have yet to be anything but impressed by the series. It’s dark, intriguing, but more importantly both heartfelt and intellectually engaging. It has a lot to say, and it’s been saying it in a way that I’ve never seen anywhere else.
Basically, Locke & Key is a story about three siblings. At its start, they have to deal with witnessing the brutal murder of their father, and they move to their ancestral home in Massachusetts. They soon discover the house has magical keys that give anyone who holds them dark and fantastic powers and abilities. These are things like the ability to temporarily become a ghost, or actually remove an emotion from your brain. In the comics, all of the powers are used in creative ways that truly add to the development of the characters and help them grow for better or worse. But there’s more to the keys than special powers, and the mystery of their backstory quickly comes to play a role.
Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (who previously teamed up to write Star Trek, Transformers, and some episodes of Fringe) are joining with Bobby Cohen to produce via their Universal-based K/O Paper Products banner. Ted Adams, the CEO and publisher of IDW Publishing, the company behind the comic, will also be producing.
These guys are pretty good at what they do, and if they can nail the dark and mysterious tone of the comics while maintaining a sense of reality with the keys, this movie could be a huge hit or at least a cult classic. Hollywood has been a little smarter lately with tieing emotion into their big budget films, and this property seems tailor made for that type of filmmaking.
While in the grand scheme of things Locke & Key is a relatively new property, Hollywood has been keen on this project since the comics first began winning awards. Dimension had the screen rights initially, and when they lapsed in 2010, Kurtzman and Orci grabbed them up and began pushing the project in several ways.
At first, they were gunning for a TV series, and they even developed a pilot produced by DreamWorks TV and K/O Paper Products. Unfortunately, Fox passed on it and there wasn’t a lot of interest elsewhere since the budget would have to be so large. Honestly, I’m not that upset since I believe this series would be better off with an R rating (thought I doubt it will happen) and the time to fully develop the special effects.
So here’s hoping they give this movie the money it needs to be great. The source material certainly couldn’t be much better, and I think with a few bold design choices this movie could offer something moviegoers have genuinely never experienced before.