Dean Koontz & Odd Thomas - A Hollywood Horror Story

Dean Koontz & Odd Thomas - A Hollywood Horror Story
by Brandon Engel

Readers of this blog are likely familiar with the works of American author Dean Koontz. Chances are if you haven’t read a book by him, you've at least heard of him. By now Koontz has become a household name, joining the likes of other prolific American authors like John Grisham, James Patterson, Danielle Steele, Dr. Seuss, and R. L. Stine. Much like all those authors, the work of Koontz has been adapted into film multiple times during his career (15 in total). The most recent adaptation of his work is Odd Thomas which adapts the first book in his best-selling Odd Thomas series. What sets this film apart from other book adaptations or other films Koontz has worked on is the legal fighting that drove a once promising movie straight into the ground, or even worse, the bargain bin at Wal-Mart.

If you’re a Dean Koontz fan, by now you know he hasn't even come close to the success of his contemporaries in terms of successful film adaptations. When others have hits like The Pelican Brief, The Notebook, and The Shining he has Phantoms (it’s OK if you've never heard of it, no one else has either). The Odd Thomas film was set to be the big break for Koontz in Hollywood after decades of flops. It certainly had all the makings of a hit; a sci-fi/supernatural series based on a quirky, yet attractive, lead character (played by Anton Yelchin), the example of other book series of a similar genre becoming massive hits, a pre-existing fanbase, a big name director (The Mummy’s Stephen Sommers), and the possibility of it becoming a series of highly profitable films if the first one takes off.

Unfortunately for Koontz, the film is now only available through DirecTV’s Direct-Ticket packages or via their online streaming services. The film will eventually be released to the general public sometime this spring on DVD, but if no one knows about it, how will it even sell? The reason you've likely never even heard of this film is the current legal battle between the films producers and it’s financiers. The producers filed a lawsuit in January, alleging the financiers repeatedly missed deadlines, pushed due dates back, and ultimately never paid them the agreed upon amount of $35 million to help market, promote, and distribute the film. Due to the fact that the producers never saw a dime to help sell and distribute the movie, it’s September 2013 release date was cancelled altogether and if it weren't for DirecTV obtaining the rights to it, it would have likely never been seen in America.

This isn't Koontz first time having issues with the Hollywood machine. Back in 2004 he allowed the USA network to produce a made for TV movie based on his Frankenstein novels. With Martin Scorsese attached as a producer the film was intended to serve as a pilot for a possible television series on the network. However, shortly after production began, Koontz didn't like the direction the film was going and bailed. The production continued, but went in a different direction than the book. Koontz took the opportunity to launch a new series; Prodigal Son. The bid for a television series was unsuccessful and the movie was largely forgotten. However, in late 2012, it was announced that TNT had secured the rights to develop his Frankenstein series into a television series of their own. It got some buzz during that time, but aside from the news that it was being developed, nothing else has been reported, or even rumored about the series since 2012.

At this point it’s clear that Hollywood and Dean Koontz don’t exactly mesh well. Hopefully at some point in the future he will be able to find a filmmaker who is able to do justice to his unique and highly successful books. It’s a shame no one has ever been able to successfully do for him what Hollywood has been able to do for so many other American authors of the same status as him. I’m sure we’ll see a few more attempts made by both Koontz and Hollywood to strike gold in the entertainment world. Let’s just hope for Koontz and his fans sake, they eventually get it right.


Brandon Engel is a blogger who works in Chicago. His chief interest include: horror literature; vintage animation; environmental law; and film. Visit his blog at for more up-to-date information.


  1. yep, I never understood what happened to that film in the end and how come it hasn't been released in cinemas. I adore Stephen Sommers, he puts so much love into his work, into each detail, every scene. I don't understand why he isn't huge in Hollywood.


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