Doctor Sleep is projected to lose $20 million, following its lower than anticipated opening at the box office. The movie sequel to The Shining has released at a time when films and TV shows based on Stephen King's work are back in fashion again (though some would argue they never fully went out of style to begin with). Coupled with nearly forty years of anticipation among fans of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining adaptation, the expectation was Doctor Sleep would easily open atop the U.S. box office this past weekend. However, things played out a little differently.
Instead, Doctor Sleep came in second place to Roland Emmerich's WWII epic Midway during its first weekend, grossing around $14 million in the U.S. (a far cry from the $25-30 million estimates). The sequel was relatively cheap for a tentpole, with its production budget coming in at $45-55 million. Nevertheless, at its current trajectory, Doctor Sleep is unlikely to turn a profit for Warner Bros. Pictures.
According to Deadline, Doctor Sleep will probably end up costing WB about $20 million, at the end of the day. That's assuming the film ultimately grosses $100 million at the global box office, following its $34 million worldwide debut this past weekend. Unfortunately, if it comes in closer to $80 million, its losses could rise to $30 million or higher.
There are a handful of factors that could've affected Doctor Sleep's box office performance. Many have questioned WB's decision to release the film in early November, as opposed to the pre-Halloween frame when horror movies of its kind are much more in-demand. Competition would've also been lighter, had Doctor Sleep opened during the last week of October. Instead, the movie had to directly face-off against three other wide releases (Midway, Last Christmas, Playing with Fire). It didn't help that Doctor Sleep's source material isn't nearly as well-known or popular as The Shining or some of King's other novels, so awareness wasn't all that high going in. And with a runtime just over two and a half hours, theaters could only show Doctor Sleep so often in a single day to help make up the difference.
On top of all that, reviews were mixed to positive. Some applauded Doctor Sleep for functioning as a sequel to both King and Kubrick's The Shining, in spite of their differences. Other, however, felt director Mike Flanagan's sequel should've stuck closer to King's source novel and suffers when it attempts to pay homage to Kubrick's film. King, for his part, is a big fan of what Flanagan did, arguing Doctor Sleep redeems Kubrick's The Shining (a movie he's never liked). It's possible the sequel will even go on to become a semi-cult title in the future, given the support it already has. As for WB: thanks to their success with Joker and their other recent Stephen King movie, IT Chapter Two, they don't have to worry about taking a loss on Doctor Sleep.