Stephen King’s ‘The Institute’ Coming to TV with David E. Kelley & Jack Bender on Board

     September 10, 2019


In a competitive situation, the television division of Spyglass has optioned Stephen King’s latest novel The Institute. The creative team boasts Emmy Award-winners David E. Kelley (Big Little Lies) to adapt and executive produce the limited series with Jack Bender (Lost) serving as director and executive producer. King’s new book, available today, focuses on a group of super-powered kids who are stolen away in the dead of night and locked up in the titular location by shady individuals for what we can only assume are nefarious purposes.

The Institute reunites Kelley with Bender who have worked together on the critically acclaimed Mr. Mercedes, DirecTV’s Audience Network’s adaptation of King’s “Bill Hodges Trilogy” that has been renewed for a third season. The duo have quite the history (and future, apparently) with King works. With King’s productivity showing no signs of slowing down–and with the resurgence of King’s work in the zeitgeist in recent years thanks in part to all things IT and the upcoming Doctor Sleep movie–The Institute adaptation will be but the next step in a long and fruitful career.

Here’s a look at the synopsis for The Institute (via Amazon):


Image via Scribner

In the middle of the night, in a house on a quiet street in suburban Minneapolis, intruders silently murder Luke Ellis’s parents and load him into a black SUV. The operation takes less than two minutes. Luke will wake up at The Institute, in a room that looks just like his own, except there’s no window. And outside his door are other doors, behind which are other kids with special talents—telekinesis and telepathy—who got to this place the same way Luke did: Kalisha, Nick, George, Iris, and ten-year-old Avery Dixon. They are all in Front Half. Others, Luke learns, graduated to Back Half, “like the roach motel,” Kalisha says. “You check in, but you don’t check out.”


In this most sinister of institutions, the director, Mrs. Sigsby, and her staff are ruthlessly dedicated to extracting from these children the force of their extranormal gifts. There are no scruples here. If you go along, you get tokens for the vending machines. If you don’t, punishment is brutal. As each new victim disappears to Back Half, Luke becomes more and more desperate to get out and get help. But no one has ever escaped from the Institute.


As psychically terrifying as Firestarter, and with the spectacular kid power of It, The Institute is Stephen King’s gut-wrenchingly dramatic story of good vs. evil in a world where the good guys don’t always win.

Meanwhile, Kelley’s Goliath will debut its third season later this year on Amazon Prime and his second season finale of Big Little Lies delivered series high ratings for HBO. Up next, Kelley is developing the limited series The Undoing, starring Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant for HBO, and is writing and executive producing the adaptation of Michael Connelly’s bestseller The Lincoln Lawyer for CBS.

The Institute deal marks the first television acquisition for the independent premium content company that’s committed to creating entertainment across all platforms for worldwide audiences; the announcement was made by Lauren Whitney, President of Television for Spyglass. Additionally, Spyglass has set a multi-year first look deal with Bender to develop future projects for Spyglass, overseen by Whitney.

Bender is well known for directing episodes for hit series including Lost, Game of Thrones, The Sopranos, Mr. Mercedes, Under the Dome, and Alias. He is the executive producer to HBO’s upcoming The Outsider, based on 2018’s best-selling novel by King and was the executive producer of Under the Dome, the CBS series adaptation of King’s 2009 novel.