As he gears up for his return to Stephen King’s world, Mike Flanagan details how his scrapped Doctor Sleep spinoff would’ve featured IT‘s Pennywise the Clown. The 2019 movie acted as both an adaptation of King’s Shining sequel novel and Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of the prior novel, exploring an adult Danny Torrance as he faced off against a group of psychic vampires known as the True Knot, and his own childhood trauma. Despite scoring positive reviews, Doctor Sleep was considered a box office disappointment, grossing just over $72 million against its $55 million production budget.
While appearing on a recent episode of the Script Apart podcast, Mike Flanagan reflected on Doctor Sleep‘s underperformance at the box office and his scrapped spinoffs. The director reveals that one of them, centered on Carl Lumbly’s Dick Hallorann, would’ve featured IT‘s Pennywise in its opening, explaining how the canon of King’s novels made the connection possible, and detailing how the show would tie back to The Shining‘s Overlook Hotel. See what Flanagan shared below:
I had a great thing for the Dick Hallorann movie, which I was so excited about, which is him as a young man starting in Derry and had a little overlap with IT. Because in the canon, little Richie Halloran has an encounter with Pennywise as a young man. Then it was gonna be this whole other thing where he joins the army and ends up trying to work in law enforcement in New Orleans in a heavily segregated police department and is up against a kind of a cousin to the True Knot. A killer who is specifically targeting people who shine, and this big battle there.
He would win the battle but lose the war and lose the people that he cared about and ended up opting for a quieter life away from all of it and taking this job making meals at this hotel in Colorado. It was gonna be awesome. They’re gonna open with Carl Lumbly as Dick Halloran cleaning up the kitchen and getting ready for the winter because the winter caretaker and his family are due to arrive. They’re saying ‘You got to be ready to meet them and give them a tour.’
Then he goes up to Room 237 and has a weird thing with the bathtub and it flashes back to all the stuff in his life. Then at the end of the story we come back to him in the Overlook and they say the caretakers here. He’d come downstairs to meet them in the lobby and you think it’s the Torrance family, but it isn’t. It’s Delbert Grady and his twin daughters and his wife. And you realize you’re seeing the beginning of that story. On Monday they evaluated the box office performance and by Tuesday those (spinoffs) were dead. I understood why they they couldn’t proceed on those with with the box office that we did. It made sense. It was heartbreaking. It made sense. But yeah, that’s all kind of gone.
Could Flanagan Get Another Crack At His Doctor Sleep Spinoffs?
The Dick Hallorann-centered project wast one of two Doctor Sleep spinoffs Flanagan had discussed in the lead up to the film’s release. The other would’ve been a sequel to the 2019 film and further explore Abra Stone after her experiences with the True Knot and Danny and as she further got a handle on her Shining abilities. Unlike the other, which was developed under the working title Hallorann, the Abra-focused spinoff never got further than Flanagan confirming he had gotten King’s blessing for his idea.
While the film’s box office underperformance has seemingly killed the projects’ chances, there could still be a glimmer of hope for the Doctor Sleep spinoffs to come to fruition in the future. Flanagan is currently developing a new Dark Tower adaptation, a novel series which has ties to a variety of other King novels, including IT, as the type of being Pennywise the Clown is further explored in the fantasy epic. Considering Flanagan’s clear love of King’s materials, it seems likely he would include these Easter eggs to set up potential crossovers.
Flanagan even indicated such plans for his Dark Tower series recently, hinting there may be room for the likes of Ewan McGregor’s Danny Torrance from Doctor Sleep, among others. With no streaming home yet set for the show, it would be interesting to see if Warner Bros. Discovery reunite with Flanagan for his show, especially considering the IT prequel Welcome to Derry recently received a series order at HBO Max, showing their continued interest in King’s works.
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