Can New Filmmakers Do ‘The Shining’ Prequel Justice?

Source: Warner Bros.

There have been talks about filming a prequel to the 1980 horror movie classic and Stephen King novel The Shining for a while, but now The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed that Mark Romaneck has signed on to direct the film, which is titled The Overlook Hotel and based on the original prologue to The Shining by Stephen King, which was cut from the novel before its publication in 1977.

Romaneck is known for directing music videos and the adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro’s popular and critically acclaimed clone novel Never Let Me Go, which starred Keira Knightley, Andrew Garfield, and Carey Mulligan. That film got lukewarm reviews, which praised its adherence to the novel but criticized its cold, depressing feel.

The Overlook Hotel will focus on the story of the infamous hotel in The Shining, focusing on the hotel’s days in the early 1900s, when it was run by robber baron Bob T. Watson. The hotel is one of the central characters in both Stephen King’s novel and Stanley Kubrick’s film, as its horrifying secrets drive Jack Torrance insane, causing him to terrorize his family in the deserted, isolated mountain hotel.

Glen Mazzara, who served as the showrunner of the popular horror television series The Walking Dead, is attached to write the screenplay. His background in critically acclaimed horror is promising given the material.

King himself has expressed skepticism about turning the book’s axed prologue, which was titled “Before the Play,” into a movie. In an interview last year with Entertainment Weekly about his book sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, King insinuated that Warner Bros. didn’t even have the rights to the material in question, and that he wouldn’t be particularly thrilled to see it adapted for the screen.

“There’s a real question about whether or not they have the rights to ‘Before the Play,’ which was the prologue cut from the book — because the epilogue to the book was called ‘After the Play.’ So they were bookends, and there was really scary stuff in that prologue that wouldn’t make a bad movie. Am I eager to see that happen? No, I am not. And there’s some real question about what rights Warner Bros. does still have. The Shining is such an old book now that the copyright comes back to me. Arguably, the film rights lapse — so we’ll see. We’re looking into that,” King said.

He added: “I’m not saying I would put a stop to the project, because I’m sort of a nice guy. When I was a kid, my mother said, ‘Stephen if you were a girl, you’d always be pregnant.’ I have a tendency to let people develop things. I’m always curious to see what will happen. But you know what? I would be just as happy if it didn’t happen.”

Fans of the Kubrick film are likely skeptical that anyone but the legendary director will be able to measure up to the achievement that was the 1980 film starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. While it was misunderstood when it came out, Kubrick’s The Shining is now recognized as one of the most important horror movies of all time. Martin Scorsese even called it one of the scariest movies ever in an article for The Daily Beast.

It’s probably a bit too much to hope that The Overlook Hotel turn out more like Kubrick’s The Shining than the horrible, sanitized ABC miniseries of the same title made in 1997.

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