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SYFY WIRE doctor sleep

The Doctor Sleep movie 'redeemed' Kubrick's take on The Shining, says Stephen King

By Josh Weiss
The Shining Doctor Sleep

It's well known that Stephen King didn't care for Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film adaptation of The Shining. After nearly 40 years, however, his dislike of that movie has abated somewhat with the production of Mike Flanagan's Doctor Sleep.

“I read the script to this one very, very carefully,” King recently told Entertainment Weekly. “Because obviously, I wanted to do a good job with the sequel, because people knew the book The Shining, and I thought, I don’t want to screw this up. Mike Flanagan, I’ve enjoyed all his movies, and I’ve worked with him before on Gerald’s Game. So, I read the script very, very carefully and I said to myself, ‘Everything that I ever disliked about the Kubrick version of The Shining is redeemed for me here.”

Serving as a sequel to both The Shining novel and movie, the big-screen version of Doctor Sleep follows a grown-up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) as he fights to protect a powerful young girl named Abra (Kyliegh Curran) from the clutches of a vampiric group known as the True Knot. Still emotionally scarred from his experiences at the Overlook Hotel as a child, Danny — who doesn't care all that much for his psychic abilities — struggles with alcoholism just like his father before him.

To make sure that everyone was happy with the finished product, Flanagan and his producers sought approval not just from King, but from the Kubrick estate as well.

"I don’t want to get into a big argument about how great the Shining film is that Kubrick did or my feelings about it,” added King during his chat with EW. “All I can say is, Mike took my material, he created a terrific story, people who have seen this movie flip for it, and I flipped for it, too. Because he managed to take my novel of Doctor Sleep, the sequel, and somehow weld it seamlessly to the Kubrick version of The Shining, the movie. So, yeah, I liked it a lot."

"He was like, ‘Having watched this film it actually warms my feelings up towards the Kubrick film.’ That’s when I really kind of freaked out," Flanagan also said. "The whole goal from the beginning was to inch those two back together in any way, to reconcile that gulf of distance between the Kubrick Shining and the King Shining. If there was ever a way to do that, even a little, that was what I wanted as a fan."

Doctor Sleep opens in theaters this Friday, Nov. 8. The film co-stars Rebecca Ferguson, Jocelin Donahue, Zackary Momoh, Zahn McClarnon, and Bruce Greenwood.