A ‘Doctor Sleep’ Director’s Cut is Coming

Published on December 23, 2020

Doctor Sleep is one of the more faithful Stephen King adaptations in recent years. By faithful, meaning it got the tone and spirit of his work instead of turning it into a chuckle fest like the confounding It: Chapter Two. Director Mike Flanagan’s movie nailed the scares, the humanity, the wackiness, and everything else that’s beloved about King’s writing.

Sadly, the sequel to The Shining didn’t catch on like wildfire with audiences. With a budget around $50 million, Doctor Sleep only grossed $70 million worldwide. According to box-office analysts, the two and a half hour runtime might’ve been a deal breaker for some audiences.

Well, it’s their loss. There’s good news for people who did witness the epic horror movie in theaters: an even longer Director’s Cut is coming out next year.

The Director’s Cut

Warner Bros. will release the Doctor Sleep: Director’s Cut on February 4th. It runs over three hours long with “new, alternate, and extended scenes.” Additional bonus features: “Return to the Overlook,” “The Making of Doctor Sleep: A New Vision,” and “From Shining to Sleep.”

It’s the extended cut that’ll get King fans interested, though. The content of the deleted scenes is unknown, but large chunks of the book weren’t in the final film, including more backstory for one of the members of Rose the Hat’s (Rebecca Ferguson) gang of soul eaters, young Snakebite Andi (Emily Alyn Lind). Her role in the film was prominent, but not as substantial as it was in the book. Perhaps we’ll see more of the young killer in the director’s cut.

Take Your Time 

With its ensemble, rich themes, and road trips and subplots, Doctor Sleep is a big story that called for a long-running time. It always lets the drama and horror sink in for full effect, never rushing to the next scare.

Flanagan made a contemplative horror movie with more emphasis on the drama than the scares. Before the movie was released, though, people were already talking about the two and a half hour run-time. There were shorter versions of Doctor Sleep that maybe would’ve been more commercial, but they didn’t flow as well as the longer cuts. 

Shorter and Longer Versions Were Tested 

During a conversation with Digital Spy, Flanagan defend the long runtime, which yes, is unconventional for a studio horror movie: 

You want to find the right time for the story, not for any kind of arbitrary run-time or limit. You also don’t want it to be long for length’s sake. I think it’s odd to me that it’s become such a lightning rod… before anyone has seen the movie. Because I’ve seen three-hour movies that go by in a blink. I’ve seen 90-minute movies that feel endless. It all depends on the movie.”

To Warner Bros.’ credit, they released the movie as it should be. If all the nuances and quieter moments got cut just to make a movie that’s shorter, none of the drama and scares would’ve been as impactful. The longer the movie runs, the more the world and characters feel authentic. It’s an epic piece of storytelling that doesn’t sacrifice character for quick scares. 

The Stephen King Craze Continues

Although Doctor Sleep didn’t connect with mass audiences, the Stephen King name is still as strong as ever in Hollywood. No shortage of adaptations are in-the-works following the success of the inconsistent It movies.

Next up, there’s an HBO show premiering in January based on King’s “The Outsider,” starring Jason Bateman and Ben Mendelsohn. After that, we may finally see adaptations of “The Long Walk,” “The Dark Half,” “From a Buick 8,” and another crack at “Salem’s Lot.”

Long live the King. 

Doctor Sleep is available on Blu-Ray on February 4th and hits Digital on January 21st.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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