Mike Flanagan's Shining Prequel Has Been Scrapped, Box Office Failure Of Doctor Sleep To Blame

The connection to "The Shining" might've been both the best and worst thing "Doctor Sleep" had going for it. On paper, the 2019 film read like a surefire hit. It was a Stephen King adaptation arriving at a time when projects based on his work were more popular than ever, with an acclaimed filmmaker in Mike Flanagan ("Hush," "Gerald's Game") at the helm. Throw in Ewan McGregor as a traumatized older version of the kid who cried "Redrum" and an evil Rebecca Ferguson in a cool hat, and you've got a surefire recipe for success.

Or so it seemed. In truth, Warner Bros. might have hurt "Doctor Sleep" by playing up the fact it's a sequel to one of the famous horror movies ever made. Its trailers focused so much on the film's third act trip to the Overlook Hotel, they didn't really get across just how well Flanagan's movie works as a standalone story, all ties to "The Shining" aside. That's not just me yakking on with the benefit of hindsight, either. I recall having to convince some friends of mine "Doctor Sleep" is its own unique beast and not the nostalgia-driven follow-up its marketing presented it as.

Sadly, strong reviews from critics weren't enough to convince the masses this wasn't the case, either. "Doctor Sleep" made just under $72.4 million at the global box office against a $45 million budget. Flanagan has now confirmed the film's box office performance was bad enough to kill the "Shining" prequel/spinoff movie he was working on — one with would've delved into the untold history of the Dick Hallorann character.

Shine: A Dick Hallorann Story

Dick Hallorann, to jog your memory, was the head chef of the Overlook who had "shining" powers of his own and tried to help Danny Torrance when the latter was a child, only to be rewarded with an axe to the chest in director Stanley Kubrick's "The Shining" (one of many changes the film makes to King's souce material). He then returns as a ghostly mentor for Danny early on in Flanagan's movie version of "Doctor Sleep," with Carl Lumbly assuming the role from the late Scatman Crothers.

Responding on Twitter to a fan-made poster for the untitled prequel/spin-off he had planned (one referred to as "Shine: A Dick Hallorann Story" in the fan art), the filmmaker admitted the project came "SO CLOSE" to happening for real. When asked why it didn't, Flanagan replied, "Because of DOCTOR SLEEP's box office performance, Warner Bros opted not to proceed with it. They control the rights, so that was that."

In a 2020 interview with the ReelBlend podcast (via Collider), Flanagan talked a little about what he had in mind for the Dick Hallorann film. The way he described it made it sound a lot like "Doctor Sleep," in that it would've largely stood on its own two feet before "inevitably [taking] us back to a familiar hotel." It certainly would have been interesting to see what Dick was like before we met him in "The Shining," to mention nothing of the horrors that he had to overcome in his own life as someone who "shines." At the least, it sounds like the type of personal, character-focused horror story Flanagan excels at telling. What might've been, eh?

You can catch Flanagan's latest horror streaming series, "The Midnight Club," when it premieres on Netflix on October 7, 2022.