We now know one more way that the Shining sequel Doctor Sleep will be similar to its predecessor—it will likely be rated R. The follow-up is based on Stephen King’s novel of the same name, which revolves around a now-adult Danny Torrance (played by Ewan McGregor) who remains psychologically traumatized by the events of his childhood (you know, when his dad tried to murder his family) and has also taken up his father’s legacy of anger and alcoholism.
Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation of The Shining was famously disliked by King, but the film did maintain an intense sense of horror with a true R rating. And when Collider’s own Christina Radish spoke with Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan in anticipation of his Netflix horror series The Haunting of Hill House, the filmmaker confirmed that it “very safe to assume” that Doctor Sleep will be rated R.
This no doubt comes as good news to fans of the book and of horror in general, and one has to imagine the success of It had something to do with the decision to release Doctor Sleep with an R-rating. That Warner Bros. adaptation pulled in over $700 million worldwide even though it was rated R, and WB is also behind Doctor Sleep. While many studios are fearful that putting a film out with an R rating will be too limiting when it comes to box office, It proves that if the right film comes along at the right time, it can hit big.
Filming on Doctor Sleep has only just gotten underway, and Flanagan says he’s not attempting to mimic Kubrick with his follow-up:
“[I wanted to make Doctor Sleep] out of nothing but love for the Kubrick family and for the original novel. When I read Doctor Sleep, when it was first published, I was so taken with getting to spend time with Danny Torrance again. It touches on themes that are the most attractive to me, which are childhood trauma leading into adulthood, addiction, the breakdown of a family, and the after effects, decades later. It really speaks to a lot of my favorite stuff, so I was really, really fascinated by the possibility of being able to play in that world. It’s one of the most intimidating projects that I’ve ever done though, just because we’re standing in the shadow of Stanley Kubrick, which could have been Jesus. That’s a daunting thing. But the only way to get through it is to say, ‘I’m not Kubrick. I’m never gonna be, and I’m not trying to be.’ I’m gonna make my movie and see how people feel. I’ll just turn off the internet for two weeks, when the movie comes out, and everything will be fine.”
Doctor Sleep also stars Rebecca Ferguson and is currently scheduled for release on January 24, 2020. Look for our full interview with Flanagan on Collider soon.