Stephen King Doesn't Want 'Terrific' Doctor Sleep To Be Defined By Disappointing Box Office

Ewan McGregor as Danny Torrance Here's Johnny Shining door Doctor Sleep

Heeeeere's a disappointing opening weekend! Doctor Sleep was redrum-ed at the box office by a surprise surge from Midway -- which maybe shouldn't have been a surprise since it's Veterans Day weekend, but anyway.

The point being, The Shining sequel did not make anywhere near as much money as expected. But rather than focusing on the numbers, The Shining and Doctor Sleep author Stephen King would rather fans discuss the "terrific" film itself.

Stephen King replied to a comment from author Matt Serafini, who argued fans shouldn't spend the weekend moping over Doctor Sleep's box office:

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All box office talk and no play makes Steve a dull boy! It's good to see Stephen King's support for Doctor Sleep, one of the many King adaptations this year and coming soon. He could've easily disavowed the new movie, since it's not only based on his own sequel to The Shining but also Stanley Kubrick's film The Shining, which King infamously disliked. Instead, King called the Doctor Sleep adaptation "terrific" and previously called it "wonderful" in a tweet suggesting people see the movie.

Doctor Sleep has had some very positive reviews, and Stephen King was "delighted" for writer/director Mike Flanagan. King even said he read Flanagan's Doctor Sleep script very carefully, and decided everything he disliked about the Stanley Kubrick film was redeemed in the new movie. That's high praise! No wonder Flanagan -- who previously adapted Gerald's Game -- is now talking to King about another book adaptation.

Not everyone was OK with the Doctor Sleep movie's changes from Stephen King's novel, among other things. However, Doctor Sleep got a B+ CinemaScore from moviegoers polled on opening night, and it has a 90% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes from 2,386 users, which is even higher than the critics' score. Doctor Sleep also has a 7.7/10 rating from more than 14,000 IMDb users.

So it sounds like many of the fans who did see Doctor Sleep enjoyed it. Sure, Warner Bros. was expecting Doctor Sleep to open to something like $25 million rather than the $14 million it collected. But money can't buy quality. How many times have we heard about movies that were basically ignored at theaters and went on to be cult classics? The Shawshank Redemption comes to mind -- also based on a Stephen King story, mind you.

Speaking of Stephen King, let's talk about Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. King didn't like it, and it got its ass handed to it at the box office over Memorial Day weekend 1980, because a little movie called Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back opened up the same week. (The Shining was also topped by The Gong Show Movie, so let that tell you something.) The Shining had a very limited release and made $44 million, which wasn't blockbuster money back in 1980 either. (Compare that to the $400 million worldwide for Empire Strikes Back.)

At any rate, The Shining is still considered a classic. People are still talking about it. Same for The Empire Strikes Back, but not so much The Gong Show Movie. Money is often a short-term story that does not dictate the long-term legacy. That especially true for a movie like Doctor Sleep, which isn't trying to launch more sequels. That's not quite the case for some movies, like Terminator: Dark Fate, which was trying to start a new trilogy. Also true of the Star Wars films, which would've probably died back in 1977 if the first film fell flat. Then the box office really does mean life-or-death for funding a future franchise.

So that's me done babbling. What about you? Have you seen Doctor Sleep yet? Are you planning to see it?

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.