Firestarter is a 1984 science fiction horror thriller movie based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. It was directed by Mark L. Lester and was produced by Frank Capra Jr. and Martha De Laurentiis based on the novel of Stephen King. The plot concerns a young girl named Charlie McGee, who develops pyrokinesis and the secret government agency The Shop, which seeks to control her. The film stars Drew Barrymore as Charlie McGee and David Keithas Charlie's father Andy McGee. The movie was filmed in and around Wilmington, Chimney Rock, and Lake Lure, North Carolina.

A miniseries follow-up to the film, titled Firestarter 2: Rekindled, was released in 2002 on SCI FI.

Differences from the BookEdit

Aside from many small details in which the plot of the book and the film differ, the most prominent difference is the film's complete omission of the hippie background of Charlie's parents. In the film they are ordinary middle-class suburban parents, not the former flower-children of the novel. This presumably accounts for the difference in the ending, in which young Charlie in the film tells her story to the New York Times instead of Rolling Stone. Also of note is the book's elaborate explanation of Rainbird's fascination with Charlie. Rainbird is a Native American, who sees Charlie as in touch with mystical powers with which his people have lost contact, and believes he may reconnect with these abilities if he looks into her eyes when she dies. This is not explained in the film, and some film critics such as Gene Siskel saw Rainbird as simply a garden-variety child molestor. Additional differences include:

  • In the book, Rainbird lost his eye in Vietnam, in the movie, he just wore an eyepatch.
  • In the book, Charlie gets the change from the payphones. In the film, Andy does this.
  • In the book, Charlie accidentally sets the soldier's boots on fire at the airport while getting the payphone coins. In the film, she plainly concentrates upon him, as if sending out the power to burn him.
  • The "fire-training" scene from the book is entirely different in the film.
  • The scene at Manders' farm is much more graphic and detailed in the book.
  • The Manders' house does not burn down as it does in the book.
  • In the book, Rainbird has a discussion with Dr. Wanless before killing him. In the film, Rainbird kills him as soon as he wakes him.
  • In the book, Rainbird suffocates Dr. Wanless, but in the film, he breaks his nose into his brain.
  • In the book, Charlie is tranquilized by Rainbird at Granther's cabin, while Andy is shot by Jules. In the film, Jules is absent and Rainbird shoots both with the tranquilizer gun.
  • In the book, Cap only sees Charlie personally when escorting her back to her room. In the film, he comes to her the very first day of her captivity, offering gifts and other such things.
  • In the book, Pynchot talks with Andy after Andy "pushes" himself out of his Thorazine addiction. In the film, Cap talks with him instead.
  • In the book, Andy and Pynchot have a discussion out by the lake, where Andy "pushes" him. In the film, the discussion is between Andy and Cap.
  • In the book, Cap is "pushed" while in his office. In the film, he is "pushed" during a lakeside conversation with Andy - which, in the book, took place between Andy and Pynchot, rather than Cap.
  • The scenes of Pynchot's "push" and "ricochet" are absent from the film.
  • In the book, Pynchot commits suicide. In the film, Pynchot is presumably killed while trying to escape one of Charlie's fireballs.
  • In the book, Andy's note to Charlie warns her about Rainbird's betrayal. In the film, this portion of the note is absent, and Charlie even tells Rainbird about the escape plan the note detailed.
  • In the film, Charlie's stay at the Manders' farm at the end of the book is absent.
  • In the book, the Shop shows signs of regrouping (new leader, closing in on Manders' farm, etc.). In the film, these scenes are absent, and the Shop may be presumed to be gone once and for all.
  • In the book, Charlie leaves the Manders' farm alone to tell her story. In the film, Irv Manders accompanies her.
  • In the film, the mailman was murdered by Rainbird. In the book, the mailman was robbed of his mailbag, and allowed to live.
  • In the book, Andy dies of a gunshot wound to the shoulder/neck after 'pushing Rainbird to jump from the rafters of the farm. In the film, he dies after fatally pushing Rainbird.



  • Firestarter received mixed reviews
  • Its budget was $ 13 million and only had $ 17 million income domestically.


  • The cast featured three actors, who had won Academy Awards for acting. George C. Scott and Art Carney had won Best Actor Oscars for Patton, Rebel in Uniform (1970) and Harry and Tonto (1974) respectively whilst Louise Fletcher had won a Best Actress Oscar for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975).
  • It was one of two Stephen King filmed adaptations made in 1984. The other was Children of the Corn (1984).


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