Stanley Kubrick's The Shining didn't require buckets of blood and gore to be spilled to tell an effective tale, though the intense subject matter landed it an R rating. Were a follow-up film to skimp on the graphic visuals, it's possible a PG-13 rating could allow it to be seen by more audiences, but Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan confirmed his film will likely be rated R.
When speaking with Collider about the project, Flanagan claimed it was “very safe to assume” that the film would secure an R rating.
Since Stephen King's The Shining debuted in 1977, it has had a complicated history, which makes Flanagan's job of adapting the sequel novel relatively complex.
Kubrick's approach to adapting the novel leaned more into the psychological elements and skimped on the straightforward horror, which turned off some King devotees when the film was first released. Even King himself was unhappy with the film, notably due to Jack Nicholson's performance as the family's patriarch conveying an intimidating presence from the moment he appeared on screen, as opposed to Jack Torrance being a warmer character in the novel.
The author's displeasure with the Kubrick film led him to work with director Mick Garris to deliver audiences a mini series adaptation of the story, despite the original film growing in popularity over the decades.
With Flanagan's film, he has the difficult job of paying homage to the original film while not trying to imitate, and also attempt to honor King's source stories.
“[I wanted to make Doctor Sleep] out of nothing but love for the Kubrick family and for the original novel," Flanagan noted. "When I read Doctor Sleep, when it was first published, I was so taken with getting to spend time with Danny Torrance again. It touches on themes that are the most attractive to me, which are childhood trauma leading into adulthood, addiction, the breakdown of a family, and the after effects, decades later. It really speaks to a lot of my favorite stuff, so I was really, really fascinated by the possibility of being able to play in that world."
He added, "It’s one of the most intimidating projects that I’ve ever done though, just because we’re standing in the shadow of Stanley Kubrick, which could have been Jesus. That’s a daunting thing. But the only way to get through it is to say, ‘I’m not Kubrick. I’m never gonna be, and I’m not trying to be.’ I’m gonna make my movie and see how people feel. I’ll just turn off the internet for two weeks, when the movie comes out, and everything will be fine.”
Ewan McGregor, Rebecca Ferguson, Bruce Greenwood, Zahn McClarnon, Alex Essoe, Jocelin Donahue, and Carl Lumbly will star in the film.
Doctor Sleep is slated to hit theaters on January 24, 2020.
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