Though he's preparing to release a sequel to his classic haunted-hotel novel, the master of horror isn't so keen on letting Warner Bros. prequelize it.
In September, King will release Doctor Sleep, the followup to his 1977 bestseller The Shining, which still ranks among his best-known novels. The new story will follow Danny Torrance -- the boy with strange telepathic powers in the original novel -- as a grown man now working in a New Hampshire hospice who must contend with a frightening breed of nomadic psychic vampires. It's a story King concocted after years of fan questions about what happened to the little boy from The Shining, and we're excited to see what he has in store. But King isn't so excited about the possiblity that someone else will revisit his story.
For a while now, rumors have cirulated that Warner Bros., which distributed the classic 1980 film adaptation of The Shining directed by Stanley Kubrick, is planning a prequel film based on some deleted material from King's novel that would focus on the history of the infamous Overlook Hotel. Given the prestige of the original film adaptation, it makes sense that Warners would want to revisit it, but King's not so sure that they should, and he's also not sure they're legally allowed to.
"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," King said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. "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. 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."
So if the prequel ever does become more than just a whisper in the rumor mill, King may very well shoot it down, though he does also seem willing to keep his options open. We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, we can relish the news that more of the Shining story is only months away.