Filmmaker Mike Flanagan's recent movie adaptation of The Shining sequel Doctor Sleep met with middling box-office returns, even as critics called it one of the best adaptations of a King novel ever made. Doctor Sleep is getting a second wind on digital streaming, where its arrival has exposed the movie to a whole new audience who can appreciate the slow-burn thriller in the comfort of their homes. During a recent episode of The Kingcast Podcast, Flanagan revealed the stress of showing King the film in a theater in the famous authors' home of Bangor, Maine.
"It's a long movie, and it ran about three times as long for me I think as anyone else who's ever watched it. Every single thing he did in the seat next to me I was like 'He hates it, he hates it, oh god he hates it.'"
Fortunately, King's reaction was far more positive than what Mike Flanagan had feared, with the author even doing a fist pump during the scene depicting Jacob Tremblay's character's announcement as being number Nineteen on his baseball team (19 is a recurring and important number throughout his books). The onscreen death of Tremblay, however, did not go over as well.
"It was one of the only times he leaned over to me during the movie was when Tremblay got killed. He leaned over and he was like 'That's a little brutal isn't it?' I was like 'S*** I gotta go back, I gotta go back and edit this. I gotta pull stuff out.' And we did, we changed it. We backed off....He said to me after as we talked about that, that was his only note for the movie really was, 'That one's gonna hurt...You need that, you're right, but I would have a hard time showing this to my wife so you should think about pulling it back.' And he was right."
Perhaps the most reassuring thing Flanagan learned through that particular screening was that celebrated author Stephen King is a lot more chill about adaptations of his work than the filmmaker had feared.
"My big fear was if Steve hates something I do with his work, I don't know what I'm going to do, I'm going to carry that with me forever. But he said 'Well no, the thing is if the movie's good people say 'Of course it's good, the book was good,' and if the movie is bad they say 'The book is better.'"
Thus, King's conclusion is: "I win either way.'" It is a philosophy that a writer who has had to endure dozens of adaptations of his novels, ranging from great to terrible, must have been forced to embrace to avoid tearing his hair out every time King sees a filmmaker take drastic liberties with the words he created through his stories.
In the case of Doctor Sleep, however, King, film critics, and now the movie's general audiences seem to be on the same page about the Ewan McGregor-starrer being a worthy follow up to The Shining. These quotes originated at the Kingcast Podcast.