Director Mike Flanagan is now attached to call the shots on Doctor Sleep, a film adaptation of Stephen King’s 2013 sequel novel to his horror/thriller classic The Shining. Flanagan is fresh off having directed Netflix’s critically acclaimed movie adaptation of King’s psychological horror/thriller Gerald’s Game, and even expressed his desire to adapt King’s Shining sequel in an interview late last year. Someone at Warner Bros. must have been listening too, since Flanagan’s wish has now been formally granted.
2017 was a landmark year for the horror genre in terms of both critical and commercial success, and few studios (save for Blumhouse) know that better than WB. Andrés Muschietti’s Stephen King movie IT was a smash hit with general audiences and professional critics alike last year, grossing over $700 million worldwide (against a $35 million budget) and motivating WB to quickly green-light IT: Chapter Two thereafter (based on the second, unadapted half of King’s source novel). WB’s Doctor Sleep adaptation has been in the works since 2016, but the success of IT has spurred the studio to fast-track development on that Stephen King movie too.
Deadline is reporting that Flanagan has now been set to direct Doctor Sleep for WB, and will rewrite the earlier script draft for the film penned by Akiva Goldsman (who is still serving as an executive producer here). Flanagan and his producing partner Trevor Macy are currently in the midst of filming The Haunting of Hill House TV series for Netflix, but it sounds like Doctor Sleep will be the next project that the duo work on after that.
Doctor Sleep picks up with a forty-something Danny Torrance, now struggling with the same alcoholism that haunted his father, in addition to the lingering trauma from his childhood and the supernatural visions that he experienced while “shining” as a boy. Despite his best efforts to lead a quiet life providing comfort for the dying at a small town hospice in New Hampshire (and drinking in order to suppress his psychic abilities), Danny’s existence is disrupted yet again when he is contacted by a young teenager named Abra Stone – whose own “shining” abilities have made her the target of a dangerous cult that possess un-natural powers of their own.
Flanagan has quietly emerged as one of the more respected names in horror filmmaking in recent years, thanks to his efforts on spooky flicks like Oculus, Hush, Ouija: Origin of Evil, and the aforementioned Gerald’s Game adaptation. He is also a very different sort of storyteller than Stanley Kubrick, so his adaptation of Doctor Sleep shouldn’t feel at all like a pale imitation of the latter’s famous big screen adaptation of King’s original Shining novel. The Doctor Sleep book likewise deals with many of the same themes and ideas as Flanagan’s previous horror offerings (such as the lingering effects of childhood trauma), making this particular director/movie union sound all the more promising on paper.
Doctor Sleep doesn’t have an official release date yet. We will let you know when that changes.
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