In an alternate universe where people actually showed up to see Doctor Sleep in theaters, fans are enthused about the news that a further sequel is on the way. Warner Bros. was so bullish on the prospect of the Shining sequel that they had already quietly commissioned a script for a further sequel—a sequel that’s unlikely to see the light of day following Doctor Sleep’s opening weekend box office. The new Stephen King adaptation, which follows a grown-up Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) as he battles demons both within and without and ultimately returns to the Overlook Hotel, got off to a rough start this weekend with $14.1 million at the box office. The film was bested by the WWII actioner Midway and fell short of projections, as tracking had the Shining sequel opening somewhere between $25 million and $50 million.
It’s not as if Warner Bros. expected this disappointing debut. THR reports that the studio was so keen on Doctor Sleep that they hired writer/director Mike Flanagan to write the script for a further sequel, titled Hallorann, to be produced by his production company Intrepid Pictures. The follow-up would follow the character of Dick Hallorann, who appears in both The Shining and Doctor Sleep. Further plot details are unknown, but one imagines the movie would either be a prequel that focuses on how Hallorann discovered he had “the shining” or a sequel, in which Hallorann’s ghostly presence haunted the world.
Alas, it feels like Hallorann making it to the screen now is a long shot, unless Warner Bros. wants to go the low budget horror movie route. It’s unclear why, exactly, Doctor Sleep performed so poorly, but speculation abounds that younger audiences aren’t exactly attached to The Shining and thus the IP play fell flat. Or perhaps Warner Bros. should have released the film in October, traditionally a more friendly month for horror movies.
Whatever the case, I think the movie’s great. Flanagan brilliantly bridges the gap between Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and King’s book, bringing it all together in an exciting climax. Moreover, Rebecca Ferguson is to die for as the villainous Rose the Hat—I’d join her cult in a heartbeat.
So as someone who liked Doctor Sleep and is a fan of Flanagan’s work (he also wrote and directed the Netflix series The Haunting of Hill House), I very much would like to see Hallorann. Perhaps Doctor Sleep will find its audience eventually, and at that time maybe Warner Bros. will put Hallorann on deck, albeit likely with a smaller budget. Time will tell, and I do believe time will be good to Doctor Sleep. But for clear evidence that the film’s performance is a bit of a shocker, look no further than this additional sequel that was already in development. What a shame.
Luckily, Flanagan is already hard at work on the second season of his Netflix series, this time called The Haunting of Bly Manor.