How will Atlanta-shot ‘The Shining’ sequel ‘Doctor Sleep’ sequel do in the box office?

Originally posted Monday, November 4, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

“Doctor Sleep,” the sequel to the seminal horror flick “The Shining,” debuts this week in theaters with high levels of anticipation among fans of the original. 

Box office pundits expect the Ewan McGregor vehicle to open between $20 million and $30 million, which could land it at No. 1 for the week unless romantic comedy “Last Christmas” starring Emilia Clarke and Henry Golding legs it out at the finish. 

“Doctor Sleep” was shot last fall in Georgia, largely in metro Atlanta. According to Atlanta magazine, the film spent time in Covington, Canton, Stone Mountain, Midtown, Lawrenceville, Stone Mountain and Fayetteville in October alone. 

The original 1980 film is based on a Stephen King novel and features a wildly unhinged performance by Jack Nicholson. It was directed with visual flair by Stanley Kubrick and is often ranked at or near the top of favorite horror movies of all time.

Some of that film’s images and lines have become indelibly embedded in pop culture history and have generated a fair share of amusing memes and gifs. “The Shining” earned $41 million domestically ($147 million, inflation adjusted) on a $19 million budget. 

IndieWire last month placed “Te Shining” at No. 1 of its top 100 fright films ahead of “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “Rosemary’s Baby.” Thrillist ranked it at No. 14 between “An American Werewolf in London” and (again!) “Rosemary’s Baby.” Paste Magazine placed “The Shining” at No. 2 between No. 1 “The Exorcist” and No. 3 “Alien.” 

Early reviews of “Dr. Sleep” have been largely positive, with a 73 percent positive rating among critics.  The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes:  “‘Doctor Sleep’ forsakes the elemental terror of its predecessor for a more contemplative sequel that balances poignant themes against spine-tingling chills.”

Warner Brothers felt confident enough in the two and-a-half hour film to preview it October 30 on 400 screens and so far, 666 reviewers (as of this writing, no joke!) gave it an average 95 percent positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  

“Doctor Sleep’s” R rating will naturally limit some of the audience appeal but horror nostalgia buffs will likely sample it. If all goes well, it could potentially approach $100 million in overall domestic gross and far more than that internationally, garnering a nice profit for Warner Brothers. 

The film, based on a 2013 Stephen King follow-up to “The Shining” book, focuses on Jack Torrance’s son Dan (McGregor), who is irrevocably scarred by the trauma he endured as a child. For a time, he found peace. But 40 years later, that peace is shattered when he encounters Abra, a teen with her own powerful extrasensory gift called the "shine."

Aware Dan shares her power, Abra seeks him out, desperate for his help against Rose the Hat and The True Knot, who feed off the shine of innocents while seeking immortality.

Forming an unlikely alliance, Dan and Abra engage in a life-or-death battle with Rose. Abra's fearless embrace of her shine inspires Dan to call upon his own powers as never before. He is forced to face his fears and reawaken the ghosts of the past.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho
Rodney Ho covers radio and television for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
X