Doctor Sleep matters because The Shining matters. Whether you love the original Stephen King novel or the Stanley Kubrick film adaptation (Or both! It’s possible!), the story of the cursed Overlook Hotel looms large in our collective imaginations. When Doctor Sleep was published in 2013, it immediately leapt onto Hollywood’s radar. After all, it was a sequel to The Shining, following a grown-up Dan Torrance as he tackles a new set of demons (and a few older ones). Now, six years later, the film adaptation from Gerald’s Game and The Haunting of Hill House director Mike Flanagan is months away from opening.
I visited the set of Doctor Sleep late last year and gathered with other journalists in the evil Room 237 itself to ask Flanagan and producer Trevor Macy about the film’s journey to the big screen. Here’s what we learned.
To hear Macy describe it, him and Flanagan landing Doctor Sleep was simply a matter of the stars aligning correctly:
Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that. Macy elaborated, explaining that Flanagan met with Warner Bros., learned that Doctor Sleep was on the table, and immediately prepared a pitch:
We went to them. The actual story is Mike had a general meeting on that, that I wasn’t there for, with a guy named Jon Berg, who was an executive who did mostly DC things except he was super-passionate about Doctor Sleep as a project. So that was one of his only non-DC projects. We knew this, so Mike mentioned it. Mike and I came back, gave him a whole pitch and he hired us. Jon is now a producer on this with me. So that worked out pretty well.
As for the adaptation process, Macy found the novel the inherently cinematic and begging to be transformed for the big screen:
For Mike Flanagan, who has carved out a niche as one of the finest horror directors working today, Doctor Sleep felt personal. Both King’s novel and Kubrick’s film impacted him at a young age and he saw this film as an attempt to reconcile them, to tie the original movie’s nihilistic chilliness to King’s warmth and sense of hope:
Despite the direct connections and shared characters, Doctor Sleep couldn’t be more different than The Shining. The Shining is about a man struggling with his addictions and failing, destroying his family. Doctor Sleep is about a man struggling with his addictions and his battle to build a future for himself and those he loves. Flanagan spoke to this and about his initial hesitation about Doctor Sleep even existing in the first place:
Doctor Sleep hits theaters on November 8, 2019.
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