Doctor Sleep arrived in theaters earlier this month, giving Stephen King fans a whole new nightmare on the big screen. The movie is based on the writer’s sequel to The Shining, his seminal haunted house novel that inspired Stanley Kubrick’s equally beloved horror movie. For the excellent Doctor Sleep, which fuses both the worlds of King’s novels and Kubrick’s movie, it was Gerald’s Game director Mike Flanagan in the director’s chair.
With two critically-acclaimed King movies now under his belt, Flanagan is quickly becoming the go-to director to bring the horror master’s vision to the big screen. Speaking to the director in October right before the worldwide release of the movie, Flanagan told us that he’d love to work on a third movie set in the world of The Shining, especially since Doctor Sleep ends with young Abra (Kyliegh Curran) starting to really embrace her powers — with a little help from Ewan McGregor’s Dan Torrance.
“Absolutely. I would love it,” Flanagan says of potentially directing an Abra movie. “And when I met Stephen King, I asked him like, is there more? Do you have anything else for Abra Stone? Because my God, she’s so great. And he left it open. He said, you know, he hadn’t thought about it before, but it was people asking questions like that that made him write Doctor Sleep. He started to really think about Dan.”
Thanks to Doctor Sleep, this particular corner of the King universe has become a bit of a generational story: after the events at the Overlook Hotel, Dick Hallorann mentored Danny, who then grew up and mentored Abra in how to use the Shining. Dick himself was mentored and taught about his powers at a young age by his grandmother. It wouldn’t be out of left field for a third story to focus on an older Abra teaching/helping someone else in need.
As far as making another movie actually happen, Flanagan told us that he and King already have some plans for future projects that can’t be revealed just yet.
“Yes, there are so many, and I’m not allowed to talk about them yet, but I’ve talked to Steve about what we can do together next, and we’ve got a plan.”
That plan might involve the rumored Dick Hallorann movie that Flanagan was developing for WB before Doctor Sleep‘s disappointing box office returns (the movie barely earned back its budget, with a worldwide haul of only $54 million). The studio was reportedly so impressed with Flanagan’s work on Doctor Sleep during production that it had already inked a deal for the filmmaker to pen a movie starring the Overlook chef. Whether that potential movie, which is under the working title Hallorann, is a prequel focused on a younger Dick or something else entirely is anybody’s guess. It’s not even clear if the movie is still happening.
But despite the bad news, Flanagan’s films has quickly earned its fans, including the most important one of all, King himself, who has lauded the movie for how well it was able bring elements of the novels back into the world created by Kubrick. It’s no secret that King has had a contentious relationship with Kubrick’s The Shining over the years over how much that movie basically ignored the source material and went its own way. But Flanagan’s movie has indeed softened King’s views on Kubrick’s version.
“I met him for the first time in my life when I brought the finished movie to him to screen for him, and he loved the movie. It’s funny, he said in one of the interviews that we did afterward that this movie softened some of his feelings about the Kubrick film,” Flanagan says. “And the Kubrick estate loved the movie too. So it’s like, okay, if King feels like his fist is unclenching and he loves the movie, and the Kubrick estate is ecstatic about the movie and feels like it honored Stanley’s legacy, then I can quietly back out of the room and it doesn’t really matter how it goes after that. What I wanted to do is done.”
Will we eventually see a Dick Hallorann movie or an Abra sequel on the big screen? The future is hazy, especially after Doctor Sleep‘s box office performance. But if The Shining has taught us anything at all, it’s that the dead don’t stay that way for long in this universe.