Feature Film Adaptions

of novels by
Whitley Strieber

The Day After Tomorrow
2004, 20th Century Fox
Director Roland Emmerich's “global-warming extravaganza rife with hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and the onset of the next ice age.” This is Emmerich's adaption of Whitley Strieber's story The Coming Global Superstorm, scripted by Emmerich and Jeffrey Nachmanoff (and to complete the circle, Whitley penned the novelization of their screenplay).

“They can hear a cloud pass overhead, the rythm of your blood. They can track you by yesterday's shadow. They can tear the scream from your throat.”

Directed by Michael Wadleigh
Screenplay by David Eyre, Michael Wadleigh
Starring Albert Finney, Diane Venora, Edward James Olmos, Gregory Hines, uncredited cameo by Tom Waits

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Rare publicity stills from Wolfen:
Albert Finney with Diane Venora as Wilson & Neff.
Anne Strieber on the filming of Wolfen
(excerpted from
Anne's Diary: Like Radar...But Different, Wednesday April 22nd, 2009)

...My favorite story of a good 'save' happened with the first film made from one of Whitley's books, “The Wolfen.” Besides keeping the wolves penned up in Queens and telling everyone they were German Shepherds when they woke up the neighbors with their howling, the producers had the extraordinary disaster of having the infrared film they were using to show the world through the Wolfen viewpoint burn up in the lab, destroying their special effects.
     It was too late (and probably too expensive) to film the effects over again and the story didn't make too much sense without them (plus the film was too short), so the producer filled the movie out by doing things like chasing a flock of birds up a flight of stairs so the cameraman could catch them all flying off the roof of the building (as if a Wolfen was after them).
     That film was a delightful introduction to movie making. One of the leads (I won't say who) was an alcoholic to the point of being almost catatonic. When Whitley asked the director if it was OK to go up and say hello to him, he said, “Sure, but don't be surprised at what happens." Whitley expected to receive a tyrannical tirade from him about being bothered, but what actually happened was?nothing. It was as if the actor hadn't heard him at all.
     Whitley was terribly agitated by this and went back to the director and said, “You have a problem, he's dead drunk!”
     The director said, “Oh, he's always that way: just watch.” When he called for this man to come onto the set, he suddenly came to life, took his mark, and said his lines perfectly. The scene was completed in one take. Afterwards, the actor went back to his canvas chair and slumped over again, seemingly dead to the world.
     All this just goes to show that in Hollywood, nothing is exactly what it seems to be.

“Nothing Human Loves Forever

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Rare publicity photos from The Hunger: Catherine Deneuve with David Bowie, and David Bowie with Susan Sarandon
© 1983 MGM

The Hunger
Directed by Tony Scott
Screenplay by Ivan Davis, Michael Thomas
Starring Catherine Deneuve, David Bowie, Susan Sarandon,
Cliff DeYoung, Beth Ehlers



“Whitley, he's such a devil,” Walken says with a laugh. “He's a fascinating guy. He's eccentric, in a way that you usually find in England and Europe where people just go about their business and nobody pays attention. But he's an American, so it's different.”
Did the aliens really come for him?
“I believe that he believes it. When he describes these things—and lots of people have seen them, so I'm not talking about something really private—he really gets into it. I'm telling you, he's like a radio show. He does the sounds and the screams. Whitley has people come over to his house, people who had the same thing happen to them, and they all agree about what the aliens looked like. And they all seem perfectly. . . well, they all have jobs.”
—Christopher Walken
interviewed by Martha Frankel

Directed by Philippe Mora
Screenplay by Whitley Strieber
Starring Christopher Walken, Lindsay Crouse, Andreas Katsulas, Frances Sternhagen, Terri Hanauer, Joel Carlson
November 1989

Screenplay information: Communion: Screenplay is 102 pages. Strieber's original screenplay accentuated the terror of the experiences, whereas the director Mora encouraged Walken to accentuate the humor in the outrageousness of the experiences. Strieber told Texas Monthly in 2007, “I wrote a script, but the director followed it only in broad outline.”

Trivia: Watch for the cameo appearance of the real Whitley Strieber and son in the Whitney museum scene.

Trivia: The text of the “book” that Whitley (Walken) is attempting to write on his glitch-prone computer is actually a description of films which have featured Perrier water product placements. In a later scene, Anne (Crouse) drinks a lemon Perrier.

Trivia: The Sci-Fi Channel announced in April 1999 that they would create a made-for-tv sequel, Beyond Communion, offering another opportunity to re-envision the events of Communion. But as of this writing, there have been no updates from the Sci-Fi Channel, suggesting their plans went astray.

Extra/Extended Scenes in the European 108 min version:

There are essentially 2 versions of Communion. The “United States theatrical cut” (approx 101 minutes in length) and a longer “alternate cut” (approx 108 minutes) which may be a European edition of the film or a variation thereof (later shown on FOX television in the US).

Dancing with the Blue Boys
Face in Sky
Alternate End Credits
Extra/Extended Scenes: Anne finds young Andrew sitting alone in his school yard, feeling dejected on Halloween day. • When Whitley visits Dr. Freidman, he describes the visitors' eyes while watching a large-eyed salamander frolicing in the physician's aquarium. • When Whitley's Russian friend Alex (see pic) finds Whitley in the diner, he tells Whitley that in his native country as a child he heard stories of small beings called “Kobalds” who lived in mines, stories which he believes to be true. This extended scene explains Alex's later declaration of “They are real, Whitley!” • On the “ship,” Whitley dances with the blue boys after they exchange greetings (see pic), immediately before the start of the “magic show.” This extended scene (possibly the most infamous of them all) must have been deleted at the last minute from the studio version, since the soundtrack audibly breaks at this point in the studio version. This scene also explains Whitley's later statement to his wife that he “danced” with the beings. • The stars in the sky above their apartment building near the end of the film do not briefly seem to resemble a visitor's face (a sorely missed special effect insert seen in image on left). • The end credits roll over a night-time aerial view of the Strieber family standing on the shore of Battery Park with the East Coast Memorial monuments and the city behind them. (The wind caused by the camera helicopter nearly blows Lindsay Crouse's hat off).
Besides the differences in the scenes above, on the FOX television version the brightness level of bright objects has been boosted and digitally diffused; This creates a hazy glow around lights which adds to the ethereal atmosphere on the “ship,” and hides some of the flaws in the special effects. However, since the entire film was subjected to this treatment even the late afternoon sunshine streaming into Dr. Janet Duffy's office appears to be the Second Coming.
      The longer version of Communion is by far the best version of this film.

BluRay (US)

US BluRay from Shout Factory,
matted 2.35:1 aspect ratio,
108 minute version,
1080p, 23.976 fps
Feb 2022


In Feb 2022, Shout Factory released the long, 108 minute version of Communion on BluRay. It includes two commentary tracks from earlier releases — the solo commentary by the director from the 1996 laserdisc, and the joint commentary track in which the director was joined by the publisher of UFO Magazine from the 2000 DVD. (However since both commentary tracks were recorded while watching the shorter 101 minute version of Communion, they presumably fall out of sync after awhile.) The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is a revision by the director; the film was shown theatrically at 1.85:1. To make it 2.35:1 the top and bottom of the image have been shorn off.



US Special Edition DVD,
matted 2.35:1 aspect ratio,
101 minute version,
NTSC 480i
June 2000


The Special Collector's Edition DVD released in the United States from Elite Entertainment was prepared in concert with the director. It presents the short “U.S. theatrical cut” of Communion (101 min), with an extensive selection of extras and remastered 5.1 sound. Includes a commentary track by the director and the publisher of UFO Magazine. Presented in matted widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is a revision by the director; the film was shown theatrically at 1.85:1. To make it 2.35:1 the top and bottom of the image have been shorn off. NTSC format (480i), Region 1. Released in June 2000.



open-matte 4:3 aspect ratio,
108 minute version,
PAL 576i


The UK DVD released in 2001 contains no extras, but it is the longer European version of the film with the New York skyline ending and the extra and extended scenes described above. The director was not involved with the UK DVD release, but the visual quality of the transfer is reportedly very good. Presented in open-matte 4:3 aspect ratio. PAL format (576i), Region 2.

DVD (Australia)

Australian DVD,
matted 2.35:1 aspect ratio,
101 minute version,
PAL 576i
late 2000


The Australian special edition is identical in almost every way to the Special Collector's Edition DVD released in the US in 2000, except in PAL format. A sticker on the front touts this version as “the only authorized release in Australia” and the packaging highlights that the film has been remastered. Presented in matted widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is a revision by the director; the film was shown theatrically at 1.85:1. To make it 2.35:1 the top and bottom of the image have been shorn off. PAL format (576i), Region 4. Released in 2000 or 2001. An unconfirmed report has suggested that the commentary track is missing despite being listed on the package.

DVD (Australia)

open-matte 4:3 aspect ratio,
108 minute version,
PAL 576i


Australians can buy the longer European version of the film with the New York skyline ending and the extra and extended scenes described above. It is presented unmatted. The director was not involved with this DVD release and it is considered to be an unauthorized release. Presented in open-matte 4:3 aspect ratio. PAL format (576i), Region 4. Released in 1998.


open-matte 4:3 aspect ratio,
101 minute version,
April 1990


Cover uses the theatrical poster art.


open-matte 4:3 aspect ratio,
101 minute version,
year unknown


Cover uses unique art featuring Christopher Walken reflected in the visitor's eyes.

Collector's Edition (US)


matted 1.85:1 aspect ratio,
101 minute version,


The VHS “Collector's Edition” is similar to a 1996 special edition laserdisc, but it omits the director's commentary track, and the picture is not identical - unlike the laserdisc, which presented the film in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio, the VHS Collector's Edition presented the film in it's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1. This is the only home video release of Communion in the correct aspect ratio, but sadly it is the short version of Communion (101 minutes in length).

The back cover text implies that this 1.85:1 aspect ratio is the ratio intended by the film's cinematographer, Francis Kenny. The cinematographer would arguably be the one who knows.

Laserdisc (US)


Image Entertainment
open-matte 4:3 aspect ratio,
101 minute version,
NTSC 480i


Laserdiscs were a format the existed before the invention of DVD. Laserdiscs were 12 inches in diameter, and had to be manually flipped over from side to side.

This 4:3 aspect ratio, standard edition laserdisc was released in 1990 by Image Entertainment.

This laserdisc presents the short version of Communion (101 minutes in length).

There are no special features on this edition.

Special Edition (US)

Communion laserdisc 1996

Widescreen Special Edition

matted 2.35:1 aspect ratio,
101 minute version,
NTSC 480i
View back cover


This widescreen special edition laserdisc was released in 1996 by Lumivision, item number LVD9543.

Presented in matted widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is a revision by the director; the film was shown theatrically at 1.85:1. To make it 2.35:1 the top and bottom of the image have been shorn off.

This laserdisc presents the short version of Communion (101 minutes in length).

This “special edition” contains an ample selection of extras that play after the end of the film.
     Among the extras are a few seconds of the alternate end-credits scene (described above in the FOX television description), and the school-yard scene featuring young Andrew. These scenes are not incorporated into the film; they are shown afterwards as supplementary material.
      Also included are a few minutes of bloopers, improvisation, and outtakes. The most hilarious involve an actor identified as Tommy (costumed as a “Blue Boy”) attempting to probe Christopher Walken. Other outtakes illustrate the improvisational method by which some scenes were constructed. For example, to solicit impromptu reactions from Walken while he is aboard the ship, Mora voices to Walken (from off-camera) some of the lines which Strieber reported were communicated to him during his abduction, such as “we have a right to do this,” and “you are a chosen one.” The DVD edition released later presents only brief excerpts from these outtakes, and even those are presented (on the DVD) without the soundtrack.
     Also featured is a commentary track by the director (not the same as the commentary track that appeared later on DVD). Mora is remarkably uncritical of the film's failings as he discusses the filmmaking process. Mora also goes on at great length about why he did not beleive the experiences that his friend related could be true. Whitley Strieber is spared some responsibility for the film as Mora relates that he departed significantly from the original script that Whitley Strieber had written, choosing to emphasize the humor in the outrageousness of the experiences, rather than the personal sense of terror that Strieber's original screenplay reportedly conveyed.
     Although the best version of this film is the 108 minute version not the 101 minute version, this laserdisc was for a time the best way to view Communion at home, and was the first time the director provided a commentary track. Update: The 2022 BluRay from Shout Factory included the commentary tracks from this laserdisc and from the later DVD, and is the 108 minute version of the film, so the only reason to save the laserdisc is for the more complete outtakes.

Communion's Aspect Ratio Conundrum

Laserdisc on left, FOX tv version on right
The proper matting of Communion is a matter of opinion.

     In 1996, for the widescreen special edition laserdisc, director Phillipe Mora matted Communion down to the 2.35:1 aspect ratio. This was revisionism, because the film was actually shown in theatres in the slightly more open 1.85:1 ratio. The proper ratio is therefore a matter of opinion.
    The cinematographer of Communion, Francis Kenny, seems to have a different opinion than the director, as he endorsed the original theatrical 1.85:1 ratio for a rare 1996 VHS edition.
     The liner notes of the laser disc includes this message from Mora, in which he attempts to explain why he changed the aspect ratio: “The laserdisc version of Communion marks the first time this film has been shown in the 2.35:1 format that I hoped audiences would have originally experienced. The additional information contained in this format alters composition, design, mood, feeling, and consequently the meaning of the film.”
     However a side by side comparison of different versions establishes that there is no “additional information” to be found on either side of the new frame, so any change in mood and feeling is based purely on what was deleted from the top and bottom.
     That Mora has taken this matting of the top and bottom well beyond the way the film was meant to be presented is evident by the now problematic composition of several scenes. Important parts of scenes including the ritualistic hand gestures made by the “Blue Boys” while they are bowing near the end of the film, and parts of the climactic “magic show” are lopped off, suggesting this film was never composed with 2.35:1 widescreen in mind.
    It is the position of this website that the theatrical 1.85:1 aspect ratio is correct and the 2.35:1 aspect ratio added later by the director is a failed revisionist attempt to make the film seem more cinematic.


Pending Feature Film Adaptations

of novels by
Whitley Strieber

The Nye Incidents
Status: In Development Hell
Director: Todd Lincoln
Producers: Joel Silver, Andrew Rona, Alex Heineman, Daniel Alter
Production Company: Dark Castle Entertainment

The Nye Incidents, written by Craig Spector from an idea by Whitley Strieber, is going to be filmed by Dark Castle, a division of Warner Brothers. The film will be directed by Todd Lincoln. The Nye Incidents is a fictional exploration of rumors that Whitley Strieber heard of possible human abductions. He says, “I was never able to prove that these happened, but they troubled me enough to where I felt the need to explore the matter in fiction.”
     In the Nye Incidents, a coroner finds herself confronting a series of horrifying murders that come to look more and more like cattle mutilations. As she investigates, she comes face to face with a burning question: serial killer or something much more bizarre?

2012: The War for Souls
(Not to be confused with 2012 by Roland Emmerich)
Status: In Development Hell; Whitley believes (as of Jan 1, 2010) that this project has been “ditched”.
Director: TBA
Producers: Michael Bay, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman

Strieber's story centers on an academic researcher who discovers that multiple versions of Earth co-exist in different dimensions, but all are threatened by an apocalypse to occur in 2012 prophesied by the ancient Mayans. By opening a portal into a parallel universe, he makes contact with his double to stop the prophecy from being fulfilled.
     Information presented above is sourced from an article by The Hollywood Reporter

The Grays
Sony Pictures
Status: In Development Hell; Whitley believes (as of Jan 1, 2010) that this project has been “ditched”.
Director: Wolfgang Petersen
Producers: Cary Brokaw and John Calley
Writer: Ken Nolan

Sony Pictures will pay screenwriter Ken Nolan (Black Hawk Down) $3 million for his 75-page "script-ment" (less than a script, but more than a treatment) of Whitley Strieber's as-yet-unpublished alien SF novel The Grays, one of the studio's largest payments for a treatment, Variety reported.
     It's not clear who'll star in The Grays, but insiders say the lead role is intended for a woman, the trade paper reported.
      Producing the pic are Avenue Pictures' Cary Brokaw and former Sony Pictures chairman John Calley - the duo behind Sony's recent adaptation of the Patrick Marber play Closer. Calley and Brokaw also recruited Nolan to adapt Robert Littell's The Company, a novel that's part roman a clef, part family history of the American intelligence community. Avenue head of production Aaron Geller will supervise the project's development for Brokaw's shingle. At the studio, exec VP Andrea Gianetti and senior VP Sam Dickerman will oversee development.
     An ex-advertising executive, Strieber began his career as a novelist with the horror titles The Hunger and Wolfen, both of which were turned into feature films. More recently, Strieber co-authored with Art Bell a book about doomsday climate change, The Coming Global Super Storm, which served as the inspiration for Fox's The Day After Tomorrow. Strieber also authored a novelization of that film. He first gained national notoriety for his 1987 book Communion, about his alleged abduction by aliens. The Grays, unlike Communion, is a fictional exploration of the effect aliens have on mankind. It will be published by the Tor/Forge imprint in August of 2006.
     Information presented above is sourced from articles by Variety's Claude Brodesser and from reports by SciFi Wire

Producers Cary Brokaw & John Calley, producers of The Grays and the recent hit Closer.
Dear Mr. Calley, I run a fan-site about author Whitley Strieber called I am curious about whether The Grays is still in development?
     I haven't heard a peep out of Sony since last year's announcement that The Grays had been optioned and Ken Nolan was writing up a treatment. Thank you for any update you can share.

Yes it is. I understand that Sony is very pleased with Ken's progress.
Best wishes,
John Calley.
Tue, 18 Apr 2006

January 2009 UPDATE: The Grays in development hell
“They've spent a lot of money developing it; I have no idea whether or not it will ever happen, frankly. These movie studios... I just can't answer the question. Maybe one of these days they'll make The Grays, somewhere down the vast halls of time, I don't know. But as I say, they've spent a lot of money and so far not a single flip of film has been shot and I really can't, I really think it's unpardonable, frankly. ...I should know what's going on, and I don't.”
(Whitley Strieber Interviewed on Higher Vibrations,
KLAB 1230AM radio, January 2009)

September 2007 UPDATE: The Grays
Sony has announced that Wolfgang Petersen will direct The Grays.

November 2006 UPDATE:
The Grays

Screenwriter Ken Nolan tells IGN’s Tim Clark “I am currently working on adapting Whitley Strieber’s THE GRAYS for Sony. Whitley has a magnificent sense of what can be truly real and terrifying. The film is supposed to go into production as soon as I turn in a great script—and I will, damn it—and it should be a great, terrifying film. Knock on wood.”

6 July 2006 UPDATE: The Grays
So far so good. Anne Strieber reports that “Whitley and I are living part time in California while we help produce the motion picture of his book The Grays.” They are available to Ken Nolan as Nolan hones the treatment; Whitley explains “I am not writing the script, but as an executive producer, I am thinking about creative aspects very hard, and communicating my ideas to the writer.”

18 Apr 2006 UPDATE:
The Grays
on the Silver Screen

We are extremely pleased to report that Sony Pictures' development of the feaure film of Whitley Strieber's new novel The Grays continues. This confirmation comes directly from one of the producers of the film in a reply to an inquiry from the Whitley Strieber fan site, See letter on left.