Nobody had to win the Mega Millions to purchase the movie rights to one of Stephen King’s chilling tales.
The Maine author recently sold young student filmmakers at the Blaenau Gwent Film Academy, in Tredegar, Wales, the rights to his short story “Stationary Bike,” for the low, low price of $1.
Yup, a buck.
And the students and their teachers are thrilled.
“Stephen King is very supportive of educational establishments; we had a reply from his office within 24 hours,” Kevin Phillips, a tutor at the academy, said in a statement to the Globe. “It is great for our students who are fans of his writing and a great scoop for the Academy.”
Alfie Evans, one of the Welsh students leading the production, was in disbelief when King’s representatives responded and gave the go-ahead, complete with a contract bearing King’s digitized signature.
“I’m a huge fan and to be working on this is like a dream come true,” Evans said in a statement.
Marsha DeFilippo, King’s assistant, said in an e-mail Wednesday that permission for students at the academy to make a noncommercial film was given through the best-selling author’s “Dollar Babies” program, “which has been in existence for quite some time.”
On King’s website, the program lists more than two dozen stories that are not under contract for movies, meaning “they are available for film students who want to try their hands at a Stephen King story.”
“If you want to be one of my dollar babies, send us your info,” a message from King reads on the site.
And that’s exactly what Phillips and his Welsh students did, he said.
Phillips said the academy, a nonprofit that works with aspiring filmmakers, contacted King’s office through the “Dollar Babies” website to secure the agreement so his students could adapt the short story.
DeFilippo, King’s rep, said director Frank Darabont was the first to receive the opportunity to make a film for $1 — “The Woman in the Room” — in the 1980s. The Dollar Babies program evolved from that, DeFilippo said.
Darabont later directed two popular Hollywood films adapted from King’s writing: “The Shawshank Redemption” and “The Green Mile.”
“Stationary Bike,” which appears in King’s collection of short stories titled “Just After Sunset,” is about a man who starts using a stationary bike after his doctor tells him that his cholesterol level is too high. As the character gets in shape, “he begins having strange thoughts that there is someone following him on his daily rides.”
King lives in Bangor, Maine, but his name has been all over Hollywood lately. On his IMDb Pro page, 42 titles are listed as in development, while 11 are in production.
Phillips said students, who range in age from 7 to 18 years old, plan to start filming the project in around three months.