“I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow the box office down,” yells the ghost of Jack Torrence in Doctor Sleep, the sequel to everyone’s favorite haunted hotel romp, The Shining. I’m actually guessing on that, as I didn’t see it. And ya know what? Not many people did overall.
Mike Flanagan’s adaptation of Stephen King’s not-awaited sequel didn’t exactly blow the lid off the box office, only earning a paltry $14 million and falling behind Midway for the top spot. Now, King has spoken out in light of the dull reception.
On Twitter, there was a chain started after a Variety article claimed that the recent run of good Stephen King adaptations stopped with Doctor Sleep. Many jumped to the film’s defense, including the author himself:
I mostly write books and hope for the best. Box office numbers aside, Mike Flanagan’s film is excellent. If people choose not to go, that is their choice, but when something is good, I cheer for it. https://t.co/i3dCnF8dhA
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) November 11, 2019
The reviews for Doctor Sleep are mixed, with the film sitting at a 60 on Metacritic. Our own Matt Donato didn’t enjoy it that much, either. The general consensus seems to be that it’s too much of a shallow Kubrick imitation to really stand on its own, along with being an utterly unnecessary sequel of a property that many folks wish would have been left alone. I mean, there’s already two adaptations of the original out there anyway.
Also, I kinda think It: Chapter 2 may or may not have ended the “good” King adaptation streak this summer. For what it’s worth, turning one of his novels into a movie is a hit-or-miss venture, almost (almost) regardless of the cast and crew at hand. Good people have made bad movies, and bad people have made good movies. Flanagan is obviously a more-than-competent filmmaker, but his over reliance on the past may be his downfall, almost like a King protagonist proper.
In any case, Doctor Sleep, much like the boiler in the original The Shining novel and King’s preferred miniseries, bombed, destroying the future of the Overlook Hotel. Maybe it’s for the best, though. King himself even once wrote, in a different book: “Sometimes, dead is better.”