The Shining could have been turned into a trilogy if the sequel Doctor Sleep hadn’t bombed in theaters. Written and directed by Mike Flanagan, Doctor Sleep was released in 2019. Based on a Stephen King story, the film served as a follow-up to The Shining, starring Ewan McGregor as an adult Danny Torrance decades after the events of the original movie. Reviews were largely positive, but the film flopped in theaters, falling far short of what Warner Bros. execs had been hoping for.
In 2020, Flanagan stated, per CinemaBlend, that he had plans to develop a Shining prequel immediately after the release of Doctor Sleep. The idea would have been to focus on the backstory of Dick Hallorann, the late head chef of the Overlook Hotel played by Carl Lumbly in Doctor Sleep and Scatman Crothers in the original film.
“Hallorann was always more about Dick as a younger man learning about the shining. And the Doctor Sleep novel tees up a prologue for it perfectly with the story of his grandmother and his grandfather,” Flanagan said of the story’s potential. “But the idea was to open with him as Carl Lumbly, and then to find a way to go back into the past and kind of tell this other story that inevitably would, very much in the way Doctor Sleep did, inevitably bring us back to a familiar hotel. But I don’t know. I don’t know what we would do with it. I love it, though. And it was something we were real excited about.”
Now, Flanagan is expressing his regret that the movie did not happen. On Twitter, he responded to fan-made artwork from Readful Things of a concept poster for a Dick Hallorann movie. Responding to the poster, Flanagan tweeted, “We were SO CLOSE. I’ll always regret this didn’t happen.
When asked by a fan to clarify why the film didn’t come to be, Flanagan added in a follow-up tweet, “Because of DOCTOR SLEEP’s box office performance, Warner Bros opted not to proceed with it. They control the rights, so that was that.”
An Overlook Hotel Series Was Also Canceled
Meanwhile, the Doctor Sleep follow-up focusing on Dick Hallorann was not the only Shining-based project to get nixed. There had been reports of a spinoff series set in the world of The Shining getting developed at HBO Max. Dubbed Overlook, the series would have also been a prequel, focusing on the hotel in the years before The Shining. It has since been reported that the series was canceled before production could start.
As for Mike Flanagan, he is currently working on the Edgar Allan Poe-inspired series The Fall of the House of Usher for Netflix following previous collaborations with the streamer including The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass. His latest series for Netflix, The Midnight Club, will premiere on Oct. 7.