Doctor Sleep’s performance killed The Shining prequel, reveals director

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Mike Flanagan has confirmed that the scrapping of another film connected to The Shining was due to the underwhelming performance of 2019’s Doctor Sleep.

Mike Flanagan, director of 2019’s Doctor Sleep, has confirmed that Warner Bros quietly shelved plans for a prequel movie following the tepid box office response to the legacy sequel to 1980s The Shining. Ewan McGregor and Rebecca Ferguson headlined the sequel, which followed the original film’s young Danny Torrance, still blessed (or cursed) with the gift of ‘the Shine’, now as an adult.

Carl Lumbly played Dick Hallorann in the sequel, a role played by Scatman Crothers in Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film. The planned prequel would have followed Hallorann’s telepathic chef, presumably charting his path to The Overlook Hotel.

Doctor Sleep was a solid film that just didn’t set the box office alight in the midst of a few other Stephen King adaptations doing well, such as 2017’s It. The film earned $72 million against a reported production budget between $45 million and $55 million and as such, the studio dropped plans for a prequel movie.

Flanagan has opened up about the aborted project, tweeting in response to a fan question, saying: “We were SO CLOSE. I’ll always regret this didn’t happen.” He later added: “Because of DOCTOR SLEEP’s box office performance, Warner Bros opted not to proceed with it. They control the rights, so that was that.”

As it stands, the mini-renaissance of Stephen King adaptations appears to be over with several projects such as The Running Man, Salem’s Lot and Christine all in various states of limbo, with only a very ordinary adaptation of Firestarter making it to cinema screens so far this year.

Despite not getting his prequel to The Shining made, Flanagan remains one of the top filmmakers working in the horror genre today, with Netflix shows The Haunting Of Hill House, The Haunting Of Bly Manor, and most recently, the brilliant (and very Stephen King-like) Midnight Mass wowing audiences.

The director has more Netflix horror on the way in the form of The Midnight Club and then will tackle Gothic horror literary maestro with The Fall Of The House Of Usher, so whilst Flanagan may have regrets, fans of his work certainly haven’t missed out too much.


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