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Doctor Sleep: Everything You Need To Know About The Shining Sequel

Ewan McGregor and Jack Nichsolson with Doctor Sleep movie logo

The long-awaited sequel to The Shining is coming out soon, so here’s all you need to know about Doctor Sleep. Long considered one of the greatest horror novels ever written, Stephen King's The Shining has left an immense shadow over the entire genre and everything that followed in its wake. The 1977 book was an instant best-seller and is still considered one of the intensely prolific author's best works. When the legendary auteur Stanley Kubrick was looking for a new project following the release of Barry Lyndon, he felt he had found something in The Shining that could be both artistically fulfilling and commercially viable. The Shining movie ended up receiving mixed reviews but did well at the box office and eventually became reappraised as a horror classic.

King, notoriously, hates The Shining movie, considering it a butchering of his original novel. For better or worse, Kubrick's film of The Shining has left a bigger impact on pop culture than King's novel itself, from Jack Nicholson screaming, "Here's Johnny!", through the broken door to the eerie twins to the blood spilling from the elevator. Those images are so seared into the cultural consciousness that not even King's source material can override them. That hasn't stopped him from trying, of course, and in 2013, he decided to continue telling the story of the Torrance family with a sequel novel titled Doctor Sleep, which follows an adult Danny Torrance years after The Shining's story. As with all of King's novels, Doctor Sleep immediately became a best-seller; reviews were also very strong, with critics considering this a worthy successor to the original book.

Related: The Best Stephen King Movies

Warner Bros. began developing a film adaptation of Doctor Sleep as early as 2014, with screenwriter Akiva Goldsman on script duties. However, the project didn't get fully off the ground until the success of another WB/King adaptation, IT, smashed box office records in October 2017. Production of Doctor Sleep was fast-tracked and Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House) was hired to direct and rewrite Goldsman's draft. It’s no mean feat for any director or studio to take on a sequel to such an iconic piece of horror cinema, but WB seems to be investing a lot of hope in the Doctor Sleep movie, and it's coming out later this year.

Doctor Sleep Is A Sequel To The Shining (The Book)

King had first described his idea for a sequel to The Shining in 2009 while promoting his novel Under the Dome. Later that year, he posted a poll on his official website, asking his fans to vote for which book he should write next. The options were Doctor Sleep or a new novel set in the world of The Dark Tower. By a margin of 49 votes, Doctor Sleep won. In the afterword of the Doctor Sleep novel, King once again expressed distaste for Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, noting, "...of course there was Stanley Kubrick's movie which many seem to remember — for reasons I have never quite understood — as one of the scariest films they have ever seen. If you have seen the movie but not read the novel, you should note that Doctor Sleep follows the latter which is, in my opinion, the True History of the Torrance Family."

It's because of that the Doctor Sleep movie is intended to be a direct adaptation of the novel, which King, as he said in the novel's afterword, considers to be the true continuation of the Torrance family's story. However, since The Shining movie is known worldwide and since moviegoers may believe that this film will be a sequel to that story, Flanagan did acknowledge that the Doctor Sleep movie would still acknowledge The Shining film in some way (via Bloody Disgusting). While he didn't elaborate on what that would entail, it's safe to assume that it would be in smaller doses as to not detract away from the main story.

Related: Ewan McGregor Says Doctor Sleep Movie is Faithful to Stephen King's Book

Ewan McGregor & Rebecca Ferguson Lead Doctor Sleep's Cast

Ewan McGregor is playing Danny Torrance, a role originated in the Kubrick film by Danny Lloyd when he was only six years old. The young actor famously did not know he was making a horror movie, as Kubrick and the film's crew shielded him from the story's more disturbing and blood-drenched moments. Lloyd retired from acting at the age of ten, so there was never any chance of him picking up his old role.

McGregor will be joined in the cast by Rebecca Ferguson (Mission: Impossible - Fallout) as Rose the Hat, Bruce Greenwood (Gerald's Game) as Dr. John Dalton, Zahn McClarnon (Westworld) as Crow Daddy, and Jacob Tremblay (The Predator) in an unknown role. None of the original cast members of The Shining will be in Doctor Sleep, although other characters aside from Danny Torrance will return. Alex Essoe will take over from Shelley Duvall to play Wendy Torrance, and Carl Lumbly (M'yrnn J'onzz from Supergirl) will play Dick Hallorann, the chef of the Overlook Hotel, a role originally portrayed by Scatman Crothers.

Doctor Sleep Releases In November 2019

Stephen King Doctor Sleep book cover

Doctor Sleep is currently scheduled to release in theaters on November 8, 2019, bypassing the Halloween season where competition would've included horror movies like Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Zombieland: Double Tap, as well as other WB titles such as The Goldfinch and Joker. Instead, Doctor Sleep will now go up against Kingsman: The Great Game, the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, and Roland Emmerich's latest drama, Midway, on November 8.

Doctor Sleep could function as the more adult oriented release of the crop, more likely to draw in mature crowds than Sonic the Hedgehog. The Christmas season is only around the corner, kicking off big time two weeks later with the release of Frozen 2, so it will be interesting to see how Doctor Sleep fares against such mighty titles. It was originally scheduled to release on January 24, 2020, but when WB pushed Wonder Woman 1984 back to June 2020, the early November slot opened up, and so they moved up Doctor Sleep's release date. Releasing in November gives Doctor Sleep the opportunity to attract families over the holidays as well as still capitalize on the tail-end of the horror season.

What We Know About Doctor Sleep's Story

Doctor Sleep follows the story of Danny Torrance, all grown up and still dealing with the trauma from his time at the Overlook Hotel, as he finds ways to use his psychic powers for the greater good. Like his father, Jack Torrance (played by Nicholson in Kubrick's Shining film), Danny deals with alcoholism, partly as a means to suppress his visions. After giving up drinking, the visions re-emerge and Danny decides to use them as a means to provide comfort to dying patients in hospices.

Danny soon forms a telepathic bond with a young girl named Abra Stone (played by Kyliegh Curran in the Doctor Sleep movie), which leads them to discover the existence of a group named the True Knot. Made up of other psychics with "shine" abilities, the cult wander across America and feed off the "steam" that emerges from the bodies of people who possess the shining when they die in pain. Furthermore, in order to properly adapt the source material, the Doctor Sleep movie is currently aiming for an R-rating with the MPAA.

Doctor Sleep Doesn't Have A Trailer Yet

Doctor Sleep doesn't have a trailer or poster yet, but that could change quite soon. The first trailer for IT was released just over five months before the film's release in September 2017. That trailer went on to be viewed 197 million times in the first 24 hours, thus setting a new record and launching a solid four-to-five-month build-up of audience anticipation. Given that WB is looking at the Doctor Sleep movie as their new IT, it's certainly possible that the first Doctor Sleep trailer could release sometime in June, or even as early as late May. Regardless of which month it comes out in, WB would most likely want to promote the Doctor Sleep movie alongside Annabelle 3, which releases on July 3. Both horror movies are WB properties, so it would make sense to bundle them together.

More: Every Upcoming Stephen King Movie In Development

Key Release Dates
  • Doctor Sleep (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019
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