'Spiderhead': How George Saunders' 'not fit for film' story got adapted into Netflix movie

'Spiderhead': How George Saunders' 'not fit for film' story got adapted into Netflix movie
Chris Hemsworth in a still from 'Spiderhead' (Netflix)

Chris Hemsworth has been officially annointed god of thunder ‘Thor’ in Marvel Cinematic Universe. But his totally groundbreaking character of visionary Steve Abnesti in upcoming movie ‘Spiderhead’, based on a 2010 short story by George Saunders, has really made fans excited enough to watch the film. The much-awaited dark psychological thriller is releasing on June 17, 2022 on Netflix.

Spiderhead’ revolves around a dystopian world in which two inmates in visionary Steve Abnesti’s (Chris Hemsworth) modernized prison are a subject of an experiment. Steve’s experiment on two inmates -- Jeff (Miles Teller) and Lizzy (Jurnee Smollett), turn vicious since it starts pushing the limits of free will altogether. Before the film hits Netflix in a few days, fans can watch psychological thrillers like ‘Anatomy of a Scandal’ and ‘YOU’ among others.


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‘Spiderhead’, a dystopian psychological thriller, is a type of dark sci-fi Netflix film that you could have never imagined coming from Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, the iconic writing-duo of acclaimed films ‘Zombieland’ and ‘Deadpool’.
In a recent interview a few days back with JoBlo.com, writers Wernick and Reese spilled details on how it was initially a huge challenge to adapt Saunders' short story into a feature film. They said, “Like his writing is not exactly film friendly. Saunders’s work is not a lot of film-friendly stories. He’s brilliant, but not fit for film”.

Talking about how he fell in love with Saunders' "Escape from Spiderhead" when it was first brought to him, Rhett Reese shared, “Well, it was brought to us and we fell in love with it. And I think our first, our first goal, what I said to Paul was we gotta use… That’s Paul, Paul likes to say, we’re going to use the whole turkey. Like we’re going to use the gizzards, we’re going to use the wishbone, we’re going to use everything from that story. We can, we’re going to try to capture, and then we’ve got work to do because it’s a short story and it doesn’t really have a feature three-act structure to it. So we have to figure out where does the plot go? What happens? How does the protagonist, how did the protagonist and the antagonist, you know, butt heads and who wins and how and all that stuff? But we really did see the potential for a movie though. Like it didn’t from the very beginning. To, uh, we were more afraid of trying to capture his tone and make sure that the writing was up to par with his”.

Chris Hemsworth in a still from 'Spiderhead' (Netflix)

Wernick added, “Then we were about flushing out more plot, like we thought, okay, no, there’s, he’s set up so many interesting ideas here. It shouldn’t be too hard to combine them and keep going and have fun. But the question is at the end of the day when people look at it and be like, I could tell about halfway through that it suddenly wasn’t George anymore”.

Reese added, “Like that was our big fear, you know? It’s like, what’s, I’m sure. Anyone, whether it’s the, you know, the Game of Thrones guys or anyone who has to sort of leap past the writer is terrified. And, and we were too, so it will be up to audiences to judge”.

The movie is directed by Joseph Kosinski, who has also helmed the latest 'Top Gun' sequel. 

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