Mike Flanagan on Doctor Sleep’s relationship with Kubrick’s The Shining

Doctor Sleep, Stanley Kubrick, Stephen King, Ewan McGregor

It’s no secret that Stephen King has mixed feelings regarding Stanley Kubrick‘s adaptation of “The Shining,” so when he wrote the sequel “Doctor Sleep” decades later, he naturally didn’t include the many changes which Kubrick had made. The first trailer for DOCTOR SLEEP dropped earlier today and featured some very direct callbacks to Stanley Kubrick‘s THE SHINING, which positions it as a direct sequel to Kubrick’s film. So, is DOCTOR SLEEP a sequel to Stanley Kubrick‘s THE SHINING or a straight adaptation of Stephen King‘s novel?

While speaking with Collider and other outlets, director Mike Flanagan said that the answer to that question is really complicated. “The answer to all of those questions for us has always been yes,” Flanagan said. “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.” Flanagan continued:

Reconciling those three, at times very different, sources has been the most challenging and thrilling part of this creatively for us. I went back to the book first and the big conversation that we had to have was about whether or not we could still do a faithful adaptation of the novel as King has laid it out while inhabiting the universe that Kubrick had created. And that was a conversation that we had to have with Stephen King to kick the whole thing off. And if that conversation hadn’t gone the way it went, we wouldn’t have done the film.

Given Stephen King‘s feelings for Stanley Kubrick‘s film, Mike Flanagan had to present his ideas for incorporating the 1980 film to King himself. “We had to go to King and explain how — and some of that amounts to very practical questions about certain characters who are alive in the novel The Shining who are not alive by the end of the film — how to deal with that,” Flanagan said. “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 his encouragement. This project has had for me the two most nerve-wracking moments of my entire career, and the first was sending the first draft of the script to Stephen King and that was utterly terrifying, but he thankfully really loved it.” Flanagan also worked closely with the Kubrick estate to make sure that their version of the Overlook Hotel was accurate. Although some have believed that the Overlook Hotel sequences in the DOCTOR SLEEP trailer were taken from the Kubrick film, Mike Flanagan took to Twitter to explain that everything, aside from the bloody elevators, were their own recreations.

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The official synopsis for DOCTOR SLEEP:

Still irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child at the Overlook, Dan Torrance has fought to find some semblance of peace. But that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, a courageous teenager with her own powerful extrasensory gift, known as the “shine.” Instinctively recognizing that Dan shares her power, Abra has sought him out, desperate for his help against the merciless Rose the Hat and her followers, The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents in their quest for immortality. Forming an unlikely alliance, Dan and Abra engage in a brutal life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra’s innocence and fearless embrace of her shine compel Dan to call upon his own powers as never before—at once facing his fears and reawakening the ghosts of the past.

DOCTOR SLEEP will hit theaters on November 8, 2019.