Scrapped Shining Prequel Would Have Answered A Long-Standing Fan Question

Jack Nicholson in The Shining

The Shining, directed by Stanley Kubrick, is a classic horror film that some consider the scariest horror film of all time. Stephen King on the other hand downright hates it. That aside, there’s no doubt the movie's ending left many questions unanswered. And now it sounds like there was a scrapped prequel script written that would have answered a long-standing fan question.

Glen Mazzara, who also worked on the ill-fated The Dark Tower TV series, recently down with Bloody Disgusting recently to talk about his involvement with the unmade The Overlook Hotel prequel. They go in great detail about what his script would have been about, namely the building of the Overlook and how it came to be haunted. Here’s what he said:

So they gave me a copy of that prologue, and there are little vignettes from every decade leading up to Jack Torrance’s arrival. And I think many of the other writers who came in to pitch on this assignment wanted to tell the backstory of the Grady twins. So they were clustering around that, but I backed it out and said ‘Well, we actually have the opening vignette about Bob T. Watson, the man who built the Overlook.’ And I thought, ‘This is interesting.’ Basically, I thought of it as There Will Be Blood: The Horror Movie. Let’s set it up as a robber baron, who has the arrogance and the privilege to build this monument to himself, and yet it turns into his family’s grave and a grave for all who follow.

This is an interesting take that likely would have answered a ton of questions fans had about The Shining. The real question is, would fans actually be satisfied with the answers and care to watch how things came to be before The Shining? I think that would be a tough obstacle to overcome.

When Stephen King wrote The Shining, it included a prologue called Before the Play that featured several stories leading up to the hotel. This prologue was cut by the publishers, but it had been given to Glen Mazarra and other screenwriters to use for ideas on what a prequel could look like.

When Warner Bros. had to decide on what movie to make between a prequel and a sequel, they eventually chose the sequel in Doctor Sleep and passed on Glen Mazarra’s script. That said, it still sounds like a prequel in some form isn’t out of the question. Doctor Sleep director Mike Flanagan had an idea for a sequel to The Shining called Hallorann that would have focused entirely on Dick Hallorann, the cook who told Danny Torrance about the shining. Sadly, even though Doctor Sleep received rave reviews, its poor box office numbers make it likely harder to get this prequel movie off the ground, but that’s not to say it’s entirely out of the question.

One prequel that seems to have a better chance of taking off is Overlook. It was announced back in April that J.J. Abrams and Bad Robot Productions would be developing an Overlook TVseries for HBO Max. J.J. Abrams has had success working with other Stephen King properties, like Hulu’s Castle Rock TV series. So, this TV series could be promising.

As for Glen Mazzara’s script, he doesn’t seem to think anything will ever come of it and said it’s likely “locked up in a vault somewhere.” Still, it sounds like he had a solid take on a horror story that only becomes more compelling with age.

Jason Ingolfsland