HBO Max is moving forward with Overlook, a TV series spun-off from The Shining. But at one point we could’ve had a completely different piece of entertainment bearing the Overlook name. That was The Overlook Hotel, a Shining prequel that was supposed to be directed by Mark Romanek (One Hour Photo) and written by Glen Mazzara. The script for that film exists and even got the blessing of Stephen King himself, but it ultimately never came together. In a new interview, Romanek talks about what happened.
While Overlook seems to be a sure thing at HBO Max, we mustn’t forget about The Overlook Hotel, Mark Romanek’s now-dead prequel to The Shining. The project was announced back in 2013, with Walking Dead writer Glen Mazzara penning the screenplay (you can read a review of Mazzara’s script published in 2014 here). So what happened?
Speaking with Comic Book, Romanek says: “They weren’t confident enough that there was going to be this, what the studios would call a ‘Shining universe’ that they were going to start building, to justify the cost. And the film is just, by nature of the story building, this massive hotel and creating a period piece, and it seemed too costly to them. And that was really the thing that sort of killed it, unfortunately.”
The Overlook Hotel was a true prequel, focusing on the building of the haunted hotel back in the early 1900s. And the film drew on Stephen King’s own work, too. “There was a prologue that Stephen King wrote for the novel originally when it was published in 1977, and it was cut for length,” Romanek says. “So there’s a brief prologue that he wrote that just is fascinating material and a fascinating basis for a new story.”
And best of all, King liked the script. As Romanek explains:
“We got the blessing from Stephen King, the script was written, and then I took it upon myself to elaborately rewrite that script. And what it finally got down to was, really, an origin story. It was more like a wilderness tale set in the very early twentieth century. I can’t remember the name of the character that built the hotel now, but it’s the desecration of the Indian burial ground and the construction of the Overlook Hotel in the deep wilderness in 1910, and it builds to the grand opening of the hotel. It was epic, and I think the problem really was just the budget.”
While Romanek’s film never happened, Warner Bros. did try to launch a Shining universe with Doctor Sleep, the official sequel to The Shining. Sadly, that film underperformed at the box office, and apparently killed any dreams of more Shining-based films. At least for now.
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