How Doctor Sleep Stays True To Both Stephen King And Stanley Kubrick's Versions Of The Shining

Dan Torrance (Ewan McGregor) is going back to the Overlook in Doctor Sleep. (Photo: Warner Bros.)

The problem with making a sequel to The Shining is, which version of The Shining are you talking about?

The upcoming movie Doctor Sleep is based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King. And, of course, King’s novel continues the story of his original version of The Shining, a version that burns down the Overlook Hotel at the end. In Stanley Kubrick’s film adaptation, though, the Overlook—which is one of the most iconic things about that movie—remains standing.

This posed a problem for director Mike Flanagan. More people know Kubrick’s version of The Shining than King’s and King famously doesn’t really like Kubrick’s version. So, to make a Doctor Sleep movie that pleased everyone, Flanagan would have to go to the man himself.

“When I first read [Doctor Sleep], I loved what [King] did with Dan [Torrence, played by Ewan McGregor] and I loved kind of revisiting that universe, but I just had this real ache to go back to Overlook. It was really kind of fun and the book didn’t do that,” Flanagan told /Film and other journalists on the set of his film last year.

“And so for us it was a question of how do we try to combine those two worlds in a way that’s going to make Stephen feel really satisfied with what we did and also honour the legacy of the Kubrick film and what it means to cinephiles, one of the most influential, the most influential horror movie of all time. It seemed like such a wasted opportunity to revisit Dan Torrence and not revisit the Overlook Hotel.”

The plan then was to be as faithful to King’s book as possible, in terms of the story of Dan Torrence and his connections back to that mystical, but also to make sure the character went back to the Overlook Hotel, so audiences could go back too.

“Our job is to thread the needle and take the best DNA for both of them and hopefully bring that to the audience today in a fun, engaging way,” producer Trevor Macy said. “We aren’t trying to, you know, take custody of one party versus another in the Kubrick divorce. Because there’s a lot of stuff that’s absolutely, you know, Stephen King has opinions about the quality of the adaptation. But it’s impossible to argue that the Kubrick film is amazing.”

The only way Flanagan and his team would move forward with this Kubrick/King mashup, though, was if King himself was ok with putting the Overlook Hotel from Kubrick’s movie into his story. Thankfully, he said yes.

“We needed to get Stephen on board,” Flanagan said. “But when we explained how we wanted to do it, he actually was really enthusiastic about it, which was very, quite a pleasant surprise. So if he had not wanted to do that, I don’t think we would…We wouldn’t be here. We wouldn’t have done it really.”

For more from the set of Doctor Sleep check out the reports on Slashfilm, Nerdist, and other sites. The film opens November 7 locally.


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