At last year's CinemaCon, Warner Bros. showed off the very first trailer for Gary Dauberman's 'Salem's Lot, an all-new adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel that was originally announced all the way back in April of 2020. Journalists in attendance flooded Twitter with their instant reactions to the footage, calling it "great," "terrifying," and "eerie, creepy, and full of Bill Camp!"
Dauberman's film was originally scheduled to hit theaters in September of 2022, only to be rescheduled to April of 2023. Just this past weekend, in fact. You may have noticed that WB opened a horror movie in theaters last weekend, and that it's doing quite well at the box office ... but you will also notice that film is not Gary Dauberman's 'Salem's Lot.
Today, Warner Bros. once again trotted out their robust slate of films at CinemaCon (if you're unfamiliar, CinemaCon is the big annual dog-and-pony show that the studios put on for theater owners; lots of celebrities, yet-to-be released trailers, and sometimes even full-blown screenings of upcoming movies factor into it). David Zaslav, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, appeared onstage early on, hammering home the point that WB has seen the error of its ways and would no longer be premiering films day and date on HBO Max (excuse me, Max) and celebrating the act of seeing new movies in theaters.
The panel went on for hours, showcasing everything from a brief glimpse at George Miller's Furiosa to Ben Wheatley's The Meg 2 (which sounds bananas) to Greta Gerwig's Barbie to Andy Muschietti's The Flash and everything in between. Curiously absent from this conversation: Gary Dauberman's 'Salem's Lot, which - despite having been given a rating by the MPAA in November of last year! - still does not have a release date.
We're talking about a modern adaptation of one of Stephen King's most iconic novels, with a respectable cast (in addition to the aforementioned Bill Camp, 'Salem's Lot also features Alfre Woodard, William Sadler, and Lewis Pullman, among others) and a director who's found plenty of success within the horror genre (Dauberman wrote all three Annabelle movies and both IT and IT: Chapter Two, the latter of which he executive produced), floating around in the ether at a time when horror is doing more than its fair share in terms of getting folks out of the house and into theaters.
So, what the hell is going on here?
For starters, it's possible that 'Salem's Lot is no longer getting a theatrical release. Were it still theatrical and simply being bumped to, say, September or October, it almost certainly would've been mentioned during WB's presentation ... unless, of course, the powers-that-be didn't want to risk embarrassment by selling the CinemaCon crowd on the same film two years in a row ("Wait, didn't we see this trailer last year?"). That's possible, but sending the film directly to Max in time for "spooky season" seems the most likely outcome here.
It's also possible, however unlikely, that they've either Batgirl'd the film or have taken stock and decided to do some reshoots. Given that the film has already received its MPAA rating, that would seem to be extremely likely ... but it's also not entirely out of the question. Stranger things have happened! And if reshoots are taking place, that'd mean getting a number of cast members back together, and many months after the production wrapped. That'd likely lead to scheduling issues (these people have moved on with their lives!), and those scheduling issues might create a substantial delay, the sort of delay that'd explain why WB has gone silent on 'Salem's Lot in the meantime.
We're sure there's a perfectly reasonable explanation for 'Salem's Lot ongoing absence from both theatrical and streaming schedules, but that silence feels like it's becoming a liability for this particular production. Stephen King fans have been frothing at the mouth for Dauberman's film ever since it was announced. They're confused about the delays, and even the film-blogging industrial complex (which can usually be counted on to know what's happening behind the scenes, even if they don't report it) has no answers for them. Maybe it's time WB hit us with a wee update, just so we can stop wondering.