How 'Doctor Sleep' Won The Blessing Of Stephen King [Set Visit]

While there have been countless adaptations of the work of Stephen King over the years, not all of them are fortunate enough to have both a personal blessing and input from the master of suspense himself. But in the case of the upcoming adaptation of Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining, producer Trevor Macy was lucky enough to get both. That's actually surprising since the film version of Doctor Sleep is drawing a lot of elements from Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, which Stephen King famously hated.

Find out all about the Doctor Sleep Stephen King involvement below.

So how was the production of Doctor Sleep able to get Stephen King's blessing? Macy explained told /Film during a set visit that making the acclaimed adaptation of Gerald's Game certainly helped:

I can't answer that question without going back to Gerald's Game, which was the famously unadaptable novel. We were super inclusive of him in everything and it was a great experience for us. And he loved the movie and it was, you know, tweeted about it being a great experience for him. So when it came time to do this, you know, we called. I emailed Stephen, we do more emailing, calling and talk to his agent a lot and said, hey, would you guys be supportive of doing this? Because we don't want to do it unless you [do]. And so it's scary.

But King didn't just give his seal of approval. He also had some input on the script, talked with director Mike Flanagan about cast and crew, and much more. Macy said:

We, Mike and I, had a relationship that we value very highly with Stephen after Gerald's Game. So when this became an opportunity for us, we were very careful to ask Stephen King how he felt about that. He was very supportive of us being involved. We let him know very early on what we wanted to do with the script. When the script was ready, he was the first to read it. And he's been immensely supportive. We also talked to him about cast and key crew and approach and that kind of stuff. So he's absolutely been involved. He hasn't been sort of intrusive or you know, disruptive or anything. He's always been, you know, we've found him amazing to work with. It's important to us that a lot of people like this movie. But if you're an audience of one, Stephen King is pretty much it.

Mike Flanagan has been fortunate enough to be one of the few filmmakers to have adapted more than one Stephen King work, but that hasn't made him any more comfortable behind the camera, especially with the legacy that comes with a movie like Doctor Sleep. The director said:

Oh man, I'm more nervous....You know, Mick Garris is the reigning champion just by volume on that. But yeah, it's a really terrifying prospect to do King wrong because so many people have. And Gerald's Game was its own kind of terrifying experience for us because not only was it such a difficult book to adapt, it's not obviously cinematic at all. But his enthusiasm for the movie kind of raises the bar for us on this one in a really big way. And what's scary about this for me is not only kind of the, the specter of doing a second King movie, but doing one that directly connects to his least favorite adaptation. You know it, it puts a lot of pressure on us. So yeah, I'd say it's scarier. I don't feel a boost of confidence on that level, but I feel a boost of confidence just in the work that we've done leading up to this over the last, and we've been doing this together now seven years. And in a lot of ways I feel like all the movies that we've done prior to this have been preparing us and kind of strengthening us for this one in particular as it pulls together so many of the things that I played with in Hill House.

Did the success of the recent adaptation of It help this and other Stephen King movies get made? Trevor Macy thinks some credit is due to the box office success of the horror adaptation, but not all the credit goes to Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Macy reasoned with an appropriate floating metaphor:

Look, that rising tide lifts all boats and that's certainly true with the King universe. Some boats float more than others, but that said, I think this was independent of the remaining King universe. Obviously, Warners and New Line have done very well and as an audience member I'm thrilled to see that. So I think that couldn't have possibly hurt. I think this was in no small part about, you know, the take on the material and look from a marketing point of view because of the, you know, we are descendant of The Shining. It's a great..if you're a marketing executive, you love that. And rightfully so because there are a lot of people are going to have some intrinsic interest in seeing this and, you know, no pressure. But so I think that that was part of it too, but certainly the success of It and, and the other Stephen King adaptations that have done really well haven't hurt.

Speaking of other Stephen King stories, can fans expect to see any connections or references to the rest of the author's literary or cinematic universe? Macy says yes and no in the same breath:

I can answer that from a rights point of view and then I can answer that from a fan point of view. So from a rights point of view, King is very careful to not cross the streams except when he wants to cross the streams. So it would surprise me if some illusions to the broader King universe didn't end up in the film. Because we've kind of liked to think we planted quite a few of those seeds, but there won't be anything explicit from those. But if you know those works, you'll recognize some stuff that's fun. But we're telling this story.

More than likely we'll get plenty of references to the original Shining movie, but any other nods to the rest of Stephen King's creations, whether on film or fro the pages of his books, will probably be more subtle. We'll have to keep our eyes peeled when Doctor Sleep opens on November 8, 2019.