Stephen King is a prolific horror writer, with many famous movies all thanks to his brilliant novels. His works are loved by millions across the world – including the adaptation of one of his seminal works, The Shining. King famously disliked Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation – but how does he feel about new movie Doctor Sleep?
Doctor Sleep is the latest adaptation of a Stephen King novel, working off 2013’s follow up to The Shining.
The Shining is a best-selling novel but is also known as a terrifying, genre-defining horror movie made by Stanley Kubrick, starring Jack Nicholson as the drunken devil Jack Torrance.
While Kubrick’s film is lauded and loved worldwide, there are various aspects of the original novel which are left out – and it, therefore, did not impress Stephen King.
In fact, King was so uncertain about The Shining that he wrote and produced a miniseries in 1997 which he felt covered all of the things left out by Kubrick.
Speaking at a Q&A, director Mike Flanagan revealed what it was like to sit next to King during a screening of the film, and also how he felt to try and marry both the original novel of The Shining, Doctor Sleep, and Kubrick’s movie.
Flanagan said he was able to heave a “sigh of relief” after both King and the family of Kubrick said they enjoyed Doctor Sleep.
He said: “Now that those two voices have spoken we can go retreat into the shadows.”
Producer Trevor Macy added: “We’re keen for audiences to see it having ticked those two boxes.”
Speaking of how he convinced King to allow them to make Doctor Sleep, Flanagan said: “The argument was, ‘What I’d like to do is treat Kubrick’s film as canon.
“‘We’d like to make this a direct follow up to that film,’ but within that I wanted to give him [King] a chance to see some of the elements of the novel The Shining which Kubrick had jettisoned.
“That’s one of the things about his complaints about The Shining.
“He’s been very specific about what upset him and that gave us a lot to work with.
“We knew exactly why he didn’t like that adaptation so I was also able to go in and say, ‘Look, I think we should celebrate the contributions Stanley Kubrick made to genre cinema forever by making The Shining, and in the course of that celebration, what if you [King] also get some of these elements which were taken away from your story when he made the film.
“I really believed those two things could co-exist but that was the pitch and it was a nerve-wracking proposal – but if he hadn’t given us his blessing of that we wouldn’t have made the film.”
Flanagan also revealed the stress he felt when he took Doctor Sleep to Bangor, Maine, where King lives.
He revealed he watched the film in an empty cinema with King and the Doctor Sleep producer, Trevor Macy, joking he spent the whole time ‘looking at his foot’ so as to not stare directly at the author.
Flanagan added: “We actually got the bring the finished film to Bangor, Maine and sit in an empty theatre with Stephen King to watch it with him.
“I sat right next to him actually and that was… I’m a fanboy first and that was paralysing.
“Watching him… I think I stared at my foot trying not to look directly at him during the screening, but Ii was acutely aware of every shift, sigh, anything he did I was reading way too much into.
“I felt like throwing up for two and half hours but it was incredible.”
Luckily for Flanagan, King gave the team his blessing – so hopefully no Doctor Sleep miniseries will arrive any time soon.
Doctor Sleep is in cinemas on October 31