Director Mike Flanagan confirms his forthcoming movie adaptation of Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep will be a sequel to and bridge the gap between both The Shining movie universe and the original novel. Published in 2009, Doctor Sleep is the sequel to King’s seminal horror novel The Shining, which was published in 1977. Set several years after Jack Torrance was driven to madness at the Overlook Hotel, the book follows his psychic son Danny as an adult as he comes up against a nefarious group who feed off the energy of kids who share the same psychic powers as he does.
Just a few months after the release of Flanagan’s horror Gerald’s Game - another King adaptation that proved a huge success despite being deemed ‘unfilmable’ - it was announced he would also direct a movie version of Doctor Sleep, with Ewan McGregor’s casting as Danny Torrance confirmed shortly after. It was welcome news for horror fans as Flanagan has more than proved his horror prowess with not only Gerald’s Game but other works like Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil and The Haunting of Hill House. One question lingering on everybody’s lips, however, was just how Flanagan’s film would fit into The Shining universe - both the universe built in King’s original novel and that was established by director Stanley Kubrick in his 1980 adaptation of the book. Any King fan worth their salt knows there are quite a few differences between the novel and the film and that King isn’t a fan of Kubrick’s movie. Nevertheless, Kubrick’s adaptation is regarded as a horror classic and is so embedded in popular culture (“Here’s Johnny!”) that it left fans wondering just which version of The Shining Flanagan’s movie would take a lead from.
Alongside the release of the Doctor Sleep official teaser trailer and one sheet today, Flanagan revealed at a special preview event attended by Screen Rant that Doctor Sleep will act as a bridge between the literary and cinematic Shining universes:
“It is an adaptation of the novel Doctor Sleep, which is Stephen King's sequel to his novel The Shining. But this also exists very much in the same cinematic universe that Kubrick established in his adaptation of The Shining. And reconciling those three, at times very different sources, has been the most challenging and thrilling part of this."
Considering some of the more major difference between King’s book and Kubrick’s movie, just how to bring those universes together is indeed no mean feat. Taking into account how King feels about the film, the plan could’ve gone down like a lead balloon but according to Flanagan the writer was open to his ideas:
"The first conversation we had to have - other than that we as fans of King and as apostles of The Shining really needed to try to bring those worlds back together again - we had to go to King and explain how. Some of that announced very practical questions about certain characters who were alive in the novel The Shining who were not alive by the end of the film. How to deal with that, and then in particular how to get into the vision of The Overlook that Kubrick had created. Our pitches to Stephen went over surprisingly well, and we came out of the conversation with not only his blessing to do what we ended up doing but also his encouragement."
Getting King’s approval is surely a weight lifted off Flanagan’s shoulders, though horror fans have still got a few months to wait until they find out just how Doctor Sleep will pay reverence to both King and Kubrick.
- Doctor Sleep (2019) release date: Nov 08, 2019