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Stephen King Sued This Movie Version of His Story; Learn Why And Where to Stream it for Free

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Writer and director Brett Leonard’s The Lawnmower Man is the subject of a meme or two, especially due to its very early 90s graphics meant to represent virtual reality. But did you know that it’s very loosely based on a short story by Stephen King? The film, now streaming for free on various platforms, even used his name in the marketing. Until the author sued them.

Read the full synopsis below:

The eccentric Dr. Lawrence Angelo puts mentally disabled landscaper Jobe Smith on a regimen of experimental pills and computer-simulated training sequences in hopes of augmenting the man’s intelligence. In time, Jobe becomes noticeably brighter and also begins to fare much better with the opposite sex. As he develops psychic powers, he realizes that those around him have taken advantage of his simplicity his whole life, and he plots a bloody revenge.

The Short Story Origins of The Lawnmower Man

 Stephen King’s short story “The Lawnmower Man” was first published in the May 1975 issue of Cavalier. It was later included in King’s 1978 collection Night Shift. In the story, a suburban man hires somebody to mow his lawn. Unfortunately, this particular lawnmower man is a satyr in the service of the Greek god Pan, who requires an occasional sacrifice. It’s a much more folk Horror-based narrative rather than what Leonard created for the big screen. And that’s why King ultimately sued to have his name removed from the project.

The film adaptation was a merging of the short story and an original script titled “Cybergod”. The only aspect of the film retained from the titular source material was the title. Everything else became about the human brain, technology, and revenge.

Why Did Stephen King Sue?

The original title for the film was Stephen King’s The Lawnmower Man, as having the Horror master’s name attached to your movie is a huge plus when it comes to marketing. Starring Pierce Brosnan and Jeff Fahey, the film hit theaters in March 1992. In May 1992, Stephen King sued the filmmakers for using his name as part of the title, as according to court documents, the film “bore no meaningful resemblance” to the original short story.

In July 1992, King won the case and his name was removed from further marketing while his name was kept in the film’s credit. However, New Line Cinema didn’t seem to care about the court ruling, as in 1994, they used King’s name in the marketing for The Lawnmower Man‘s home video release. Naturally, the company was held in contempt of court.

The Lawnmower Man is streaming now on Starz and Fandango At Home.

What do you think of The Lawnmower Man? Are you going to check it out while it’s streaming? Let us know on Twitter and Instagram @DreadCentral.

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