“Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes, really. Pressure and time.”
Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) in The Shawshank Redemption
Just as my post yesterday mentioned that Jordan Peele had the idea kicking around for Get Out five years before he sat down and pounded out the script, Frank Darabont acquired the rights to the Stephen King novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption five years before he sat down to write the script for The Shawshank Redemption.
“So I got the rights and didn’t do anything with them for five years, for a number of reasons…I think on a certain level I was waiting for my abilities as a writer to catch up with my ambitions for the script. I don’t think I could have written it nearly as well when I first optioned it. But the day came when I felt like I was ready to try it. So I sat down and wrote it in eight weeks, and two weeks later we had a deal with Castle Rock.”
Writer Frank Darabont
Conversations with Screenwriters by Susan Bullington Katz
That big option that Darabont had forRita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was what King called a “Dollar Baby”—where a filmmaker could option one of his stories for $1. (With a back in deal if the movie ever got made and distributed.)
While rating films is subjective, it’s worth noting that as I write this that according to a poll of IMDB users The Shawshank Redemption is ranked the #1 movie of all time.
“About everywhere you go, people say, The Shawshank Redemption—greatest movie I ever saw.”—Morgan Freeman
P.S. I’m actually not sure if the rights to Shawshank was a dollar deal or not, but it is true that Darabont started a relationship with King when he did the dollar deal for King’s short story The Woman in the Room—so one way or another $1 turned into IMBD’s #1 movie.