Mark Romanek is in talks to direct The Shining prequel Overlook Hotel for Warner Bros. According to Variety, former The Walking Dead showrunner Glenn Mazzara recently turned in his draft for the original story. The script is based on Stephen King‘s prologue to the novel, which was cut from the book prior to publication. The story takes place at the turn of the 20th century, and focuses on the hotel’s first owner, robber baron Bob T. Watson. Watson and his family scaled Colorado Rockies to build the grand resort, a place they could also call home. Things presumably went downhill from there.
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In case you’re unfamiliar with The Shining, it centers on a struggling writer and his family who come to look after the hotel during the off-season, and the Overlook’s evil presence causes him to go insane and violently attack his wife and psychic son. The celebrated novel was adapted into a classic film by Stanley Kubrick, and King was notoriously unhappy with the adaptation because he felt it strayed too far from the source material. King had the opportunity to make a new adaptation in 1997 as an ABC mini-series starring Steven Webber. One is well-remembered and one isn’t.
Either way, part of what makes the story so powerful is the mystery involved. Nothing is entirely spelled out, which makes the evil even more unnerving. Evil that can be solved can possibly be defeated, but something random and unpredictable is terrifying. My concern with a prequel is it might answer questions raised by The Shining and thus lessen the impact of the original, although I doubt anything can diminish Kubrick’s chilling direction.
And if there’s anyone who could possibly come up with a distinct and thoughtful take on the material, it would probably be Romanek, whose past credits include One Hour Photo, Never Let Me Go, and a collection of acclaimed commercials and music videos. However, Romanek also has a habit of walking off projects in pre-production. He departed The Wolfman right before filming was about to begin, and then left Cinderella because his take conflicted with Disney’s. While it’s interesting to think what Romanek might do with Overlook Hotel, I’m not sure if he’ll stick around. As Variety notes, he’s also attached to Boston Strangler starring Casey Affleck as a detective trying to solve the case of the notorious Boston serial killer in the early 1960s. [Update: The Wrap reports that Romanek is no longer attached to Boston Strangler, so maybe Overlook Hotel will be his next film after all].
Whether Romanek sticks around for Overlook Hotel or not, Warner Bros. seems a little bent on turning The Shining into a trilogy of sorts since they’re also planning to adapted King’s 2013 sequel novel that focused on a middle-aged Dan Torrance.