“The Breathing Method” is a short story that exists in a strange place in author Stephen King’s legacy and in the history of Stephen King adaptations. The story is one of four that is included in the beloved 1982 collection different seasonsand while the other three titles of the omnibus inspired adaptations – notably that of Frank Darabont The Shawshank Redemptionby Rob Reiner support meand Bryan Singer Able student – it is a work of fiction that currently only exists on the page.
In 2012, director Scott Derrickson and screenwriter Scott Teems began to change that history by developing a film based on the short story with Blumhouse Productions. And even though it’s been roughly a decade since the project was first announced, the filmmakers aren’t giving up on the idea that it could one day exist in some form.
With his new film, the critically acclaimed The black phone (based on the short story by Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill) set to hit Blu-ray next week, Scott Derrickson was recently a guest on CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast, and The breathing method was a project that came up in conversation. The filmmaker was asked about the idea of doing an adaptation of King at some point in the future, and Derrickson explained that he still had hope for his big screen version of the different seasons novel :
“The Breathing Method” is a strange story in that it has two different narrative levels. The story’s narrator is a lawyer who is invited to join an extremely exclusive New York men’s club. The group gathers in a beautiful space with books and games, but the true passion of these gentlemen is storytelling.
The title of the short story comes from a tale the narrator hears told by an elderly doctor named Dr. Emlyn McCarron, who talks about his experience with a pregnant woman named Sandra Stansfield when he practiced medicine in the 1930s. To help with his work, Dr. McCarron has him practice a technique called the Breathing Method – and while I won’t go into too much detail, I will say that the story has a macabre and chilling conclusion.
Earlier this year, I had the chance to interview screenwriter Scott Teems, and he went into more detail about the long road the Breathing method the film went through development hell. The screenwriter credits the project with helping him forge relationships with Scott Derrickson and producer Jason Blum, but says development hit a brick wall as there was a time when the film was sold to The Weinstein Company. Says Teems,
In 2017 Harvey Weinstein was accused of sexual abuse by dozens of women, and in 2020 he was found guilty and sentenced to 23 years in prison. The part of the “fallout” Scott Teems refers to is that The Weinstein Company was forced into Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of the scandal.
Granted, there aren’t a huge number of projects that have managed to survive a decade in development hell with the original filmmakers still attached, but Scott Teems is determined to have The breathing method be one of them. The adaptation has evolved over the years and been changed for different mediums, but the writer is confident that it will one day be made in one form or another. Says Teems,
The sibling stories of “The Breathing Method” in different seasons inspired two of the best Stephen King films of all time The Shawshank Redemption and support meand if the adaptation is even half the quality of either of those films, it will hopefully get funded tomorrow.
Waiting The breathing method to finally come together, horror fans can check out Scott Derrickson The black phonenow available for rental and digital purchase (opens in a new tab)and the Blu-ray arrives Tuesday, August 16. To keep track of all the Stephen King projects going on in Hollywood, our guide to upcoming Stephen King movies and TV is a great resource, and our Stephen King Adaptation column explores the long history of King adaptations. every week since May 2021.