The Shining: Mark Romanek Sheds Light on His Abandoned Overlook Hotel Prequel

The works of Stephen King have found their way into countless movies and television shows, ranging [...]

The works of Stephen King have found their way into countless movies and television shows, ranging from the truly iconic to the unfortunate. The Shining, the 1977 novel from King that spawned a classic 1980 film, has had an interesting place among that, with several attempts to further expand the story's universe in recent years. Among these was a potential prequel film centered on the Overlook Hotel, which was written by Glen Mazzara (The Walking Dead) and set to be directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo, Never Let Me Go). While the project never ended up coming to fruition, we do have a bit more insight into what it would have entailed. recently got to chat with Romanek about his work on Amazon's Tales From the Loop, and we asked about what his approach to the film, which he previously compared to The Revenant, would have been.

"We weren't trying to milk this classic genre movie for just 'Let's milk it for something,'" Romanek explained. "There was a prologue that Stephen King wrote for the novel originally when it was published in 1977, and it was cut for length. So there's a brief prologue that he wrote that just is fascinating material and a fascinating basis for a new story. And a terrific producer named Brad Fischer who's done things like Shutter Island and Zodiac and really excellent films, he got this idea to try to adapt that prologue."

"We got the blessing from Stephen King, the script was written, and then I took it upon myself to elaborately rewrite that script," Romanek continued. "And what it finally got down to was, really, an origin story. It was more like a wilderness tale set in the very early twentieth century. I can't remember the name of the character that built the hotel now, but it's the desecration of the Indian burial ground and the construction of the Overlook Hotel in the deep wilderness in 1910, and it builds to the grand opening of the hotel. It was epic, and I think the problem really was just the budget. They weren't confident enough that there was going to be this, what the studios would call a 'Shining universe' that they were going to start building, to justify the cost. And the film is just, by nature of the story building, this massive hotel and creating a period piece, and it seemed too costly to them. And that was really the thing that sort of killed it, unfortunately."

In the time since the Overlook Hotel spinoff was first conceived, Warner Bros. has tried to bring a "Shining universe" to fruition in the form of Doctor Sleep, a film that was ultimately plagued by a bad box office performance. Earlier this month, it was announced that the studio will be trying to revisit the general concept of the Overlook Hotel again, with J.J. Abrams developing a television adaptation for HBO Max.