HBO Max & JJ Abrams to expand the story of 'The Shining' with Overlook Hotel series
We are going to learn the secrets of the Overlook Hotel (Spoilers and speculation below)
When a beloved classic film is adapdated for TV, the first question is 'why?', usually followed by 'Why can't Hollywood leave classics alone? and 'Theres no originality anymore' and I'd usually agree but I think HBO Max and JJ Abrams could be onto a winner here.
Ironically despite its revered status author Stephen King was not a fan of Stanley Kubricks adaptation of his novel, he thought all Shelly Duvall did was scream through the movie and that Jack Nicholson played the same psycho role he had played regulary around the time. King was so unhappy with Kubricks version of the film that he eventually made his own TV minseries version (from his own screenplay), the reception was mixed fans of the original film slated the low quality of the production while fans of King defended it by saying it was truer to the novel than Kubricks version.
King contiuned to try and erase Kubricks ideas by penning a sequel 'Dr Sleep' that emphatically retconned the plot issues he had with Kubricks version and continued on the story of an adult Danny Torrance. 'Dr Sleep' was helmed by Mike Flanagan (The Haunting of Hill House, Netflix) and would seemingly be a poisoned chalice to take. How do you make a sequel to a classic film that the original writer hated so much he wrote a sequel to fix the issues? How can you make a successful film serving two masters?Against all odds Flanagan delivered with 'Dr Sleep', a film that paid homage to the original while managing to be original in its own right.
The biggest change between the two source novels is where 'The Shining' is all about a mans descent into madness in a creepy hotel, 'Dr Sleep' expands the mythology and lore of 'The Shining' by introducing an acutal villain in Rebecca Ferguson's 'Rose The Hat' and her 'Cult of the Knot'.
The plot of 'Dr Sleep' follows several interweaving plotlines, starting with a few short scenes to show what happened to young Danny Torrance after the events of the original and we see he has learnt to deal with the trauma of his past despite his issues with drugs and alcohol. The other main plot line involves 'The Cult of the Knot' a travelling band of psychic vampires who if they 'eat well, live long', they target people (usually children) who have 'The Shine' like Danny did. When they find there victimes they are literally suck the shine out of them. This takes us to our third plotline with Abra Stone, a young girl who has massive power with the shine that her parents try to ignore but also brings her to the attention of Rose and her cult. This leads to a team up with the older Danny Torrance (Ewan McGregor) as they plan to stop Rose and the only way to fight her is to return to the 'Overlook Hotel'.
I throughly enjoyed this film on my initial viewing and it definaetly improves with a second viewing, and the extended 3 hour long directors cut. Despite generally favourable reviews the film was not considered much of financial success only making $72 million from a budget of $45 million.
Yet as I watched the film I thought there is such a great world here that could be explored in a long form TV show and thats what JJ Abrams and HBO Max thought as well. Abrams has already worked in a producing role of the Stephen King anthology show 'Castle Rock' on Hulu so he has some expereince building within King's world.
Others had tried to captialise on the fandom of 'The Shining' and at one point Warner Brothers were developing an 'Overlook' movie with director Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) hired to write and direct which never got off the ground due to budget issues. As this project has just been announced bar Abrams and a few producers from 'Castle Rock's' involvement nothing else is known about the project at the moment, so below the speculation will commence.
1.) History of the Overlook?
As we well know the Overlook is crammed full of ghosts, so the show could be a prequel telling the story of how the Overlook was constructed and fill in the blanks of the why it became so haunted. Each episode you could get backstory on a certain ghost or relative of characters from the original. Though there is an inherent danger in giving backstory to all the ghosts, who are the twins? what is the real story behind Lorraine Massey (old naked corpse lady) and Room 237? The show could progress in a linear time frame eventually ending with the arrival of the Torrance family in the original.
2.) The Overlook through diffferent time periods?
Time can flow quite differently in the Overlook, so like Mike Flangans 'Haunting of Hill House', episodes could take place before,during and after the events of 'The Shining' The idea in general shares some DNA with American Horror Story's 'Hotel' season where we learnt about the ghosts of the Cortez hotel. If the show runners want a more complicated strcuture each episode could move about at various important landmarks in the history of the hotel.
3.) Set after Dr Sleep?
Despite the Overlook burning down at the end of the original novel, and again in Dr Sleep, with some solid backstory the show runners could tell a story about a new hotel being constructed on the site of the Overlook, in some ways a reboot of the original story but set in modern times.
4.) Cult of the Knot?
Rose the Hat was easily one of the best new characters introduced in Dr Sleep and despite her apparent demise I would have loved to known more about her groups history and how and where they came from. This could be explained as a side storyline if the show jumps between time periods, however the issue with this is only Rose discovers the Overlook at the climax of Dr Sleep and for a show based upon the mythlogy of the hotel the timelines do not line up. What could work is introduce a different set of earlier Cult of the Knot characters who were aware of the power of the overlook or if we went with episodes taking place after Dr Sleep we could have the absolutely terrifying ghost of Rose the Hat haunting the new inhabitiants of the Overlook. This would also allow them to bring in other charatcers with 'The Shine' like an now adult Abra Stone who could once again clash with an even more evil and malevolent Rose.
5.) Castle Rock crossovers?
We could also get potenial 'Castle Rock' crossovers with other King characters staying at the Overlook, as the same producers will work both shows and the shared King universe has begun to pick up some positive praise from fans.
Whatever route the show runners decide to go I for one cannot wait to learn the history of the Overlook hotel and see what horrors lurk inside.