Stephen King doesn’t need money. This year alone, the best-selling author made over $27 million (via Forbes), so you have to imagine the coin he was pulling back in the late ’80s, when director Frank Darabont purchased the rights to adapt his 1982 novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption. That’s probably why the Master of Horror never felt the need to cash in his $5,000 royalty check.
In a new profile by The Wall Street Journal that chronicles the ensuing success of Darabont’s Oscar-nominated adaptation, it was revealed that King not only never cashed the check, but also sent it back to Darabont. As the article states, “Years after Shawshank came out, the author got the check framed and mailed it back to the director with a note inscribed: ‘In case you ever need bail money. Love, Steve.’”
Although it went home empty-handed at the Oscars the following year, The Shawshank Redemption is now considered by many critics and fans to be one of the greatest films of all time. As The Wall Street Journal points out in their piece, the film has since become one of the highest valued assets in Warner Bros. $1.5 billion library and continues to be a dominating force on cable television.
Darabont would go on to adapt two more King books. In 1999, he brought to life another prison parable with The Green Mile, and eight years later would deliver one of the more harrowing movies of the aughts with 2007’s The Mist.
This past summer, The Shawshank Redemption and The Mist screened at our inaugural Stephen King Film Festival, which was hosted by The Losers’ Club: A Stephen King Podcast at Chicago’s Music Box Theatre. Stream the episode below.