Warner Bros. and filmmaker Mike Flanagan were developing a Doctor Sleep sequel, but it's unlikely to happen now. Despite having positive (if mixed) reviews and Stephen King in its corner, Doctor Sleep is struggling at the box office. The horror film was initially projected to be one of November's bigger movies, given that it acts as both a sequel to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining and an adaptation of King's novel. Things didn't play out that way, however, with Doctor Sleep coming in second to Midway over this year's Veteran's Day frame.
Even with its modest budget ($45-55 million), the latest estimates claim Doctor Sleep could end up costing WB around $20 million. No doubt, that news will come as all the more disappointing to those who're hoping the film wouldn't be a one-off and could even lead to a third movie set in The Shining universe. As it turns out, WB actually had something similar in mind.
According to THR, the studio has closed a deal for Flanagan (who both wrote and directed Doctor Sleep) to work on the screenplay for a followup with the working title Hallorann. As its name implies, the film would've revolved around Dick Hallorann, the Overlook Hotel's former cook and a character played by Carl Lumbly in Doctor Sleep (taking over from the late Scatman Crothers, who played Hallorann in Kubrick's The Shining).
THR's article refers to Hallorann as a sequel, but that description could be misleading. It's possible the film would've partly been a continuation of Doctor Sleep's storyline, but also partly a prequel about Hallorann and his upbringing. Alternatively, it might've been a full-blown spinoff about the character and his own experiences using his Shining powers as a young man. Hallorann taught Danny how to use his abilities as a child and continued to aid him in adulthood (albeit, as a ghost) in Doctor Sleep, so there could be a really interesting story behind how he gained all that knowledge in the first place. Doctor Sleep even suggests that Hallorann, in death, had become an otherworldly guide to those with The Shining. As such, the sequel might've instead seen him evolve into a mentor for Doctor Sleep's teenaged protagonist, Abra Stone (Kyliegh Curran), and helping to guide her on her own journey.
Speculation aside, Hallorann will (sadly) probably never come to pass now. WB is hoping to avoid losing too much money on Doctor Sleep at this point, giving them little incentive to try and find a way to continue The Shining franchise for a third movie. Of course, that doesn't mean audiences should, er, sleep on seeing Doctor Sleep in theaters if they're interested in it. King and Flanagan have even encouraged those who love the sequel to spread the word and get other people to check it out. That may not be enough to get WB to green-light another film, but it should allow Doctor Sleep to avoid being dismissed as a box office disappointment and little more.