Warner Bros. has been exploring the possibility of a movie prequel to The Shining for quite a while, but the project just got a jolt of new life with news that The Walking Dead‘s former showrunner Glen Mazzara is in talks to write it.
But does the studio that released Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 adaptation have the rights to move forward? That’s a question the studio wasn’t able to answer definitively when EW asked last summer, and Stephen King himself recently expressed doubts.
At issue is whether the studio owns the rights to a section documenting the bloody early history of the haunted Overlook Hotel, which was cut from the 1977 novel. When film rights to a book are sold, it’s common for notes, deleted sections, and early edits to be included in the deal. But it has been a long time, and it’s no longer certain who owns what. The author himself doesn’t object to a prequel on creative grounds, but isn’t sure they still own the rights.
Here’s what King told us in an interview about Doctor Sleep, The Shining sequel he’ll publish in September:
There’s a real question about whether or not they have the rights to ‘Before the Play,’ which was the prologue cut from the book — because the epilogue to the book was called ‘After the Play.’ So they were bookends, and there was really scary stuff in that prologue that wouldn’t make a bad movie. Am I eager to see that happen? No I am not. And there’s some real question about what rights Warner Bros. does still have. The Shining is such an old book now that the copyright comes back to me. Arguably, the film rights lapse — so we’ll see. We’re looking into that.
A studio source said that Warner Bros. is confident it has the rights to a prequel to The Shining. Mazzara’s camp at CAA did not immediately return a request for comment, but the source also confirmed those talks were ongoing. Mike Fleming Jr. of Deadline broke the news of his potential involvement.
Mazzara, who took over the AMC zombie drama after Frank Darabont left two seasons ago, stunned fans when he revealed he would not return to The Walking Dead for its fourth season. But it’s not entirely clear that The Shining is where he’ll be headed next.
How does King feel about the possibility of a Shining prequel made without his involvement? The way he tells it, he’s not quite determined to kill it, though he’s certainly not a fan of the concept:
I’m not saying I would put a stop to the project, because I’m sort of a nice guy. When I was a kid, my mother said, ‘Stephen if you were a girl, you’d always be pregnant.’ I have a tendency to let people develop things. I’m always curious to see what will happen. But you know what? I would be just as happy if it didn’t happen.
How about the rest of you? Interested in another stay at The Overlook Hotel?
For more film news: Follow @breznican