With Rodney Ascher's fascinating documentary Room 237 turning heads this year at Sundance and Cannes, it seems Warner Bros have been reminded about a little movie in their back catalogue called The Shining. Stanley Kubrick's 1980 film of Stephen King's 1977 novel continues to be pored over, referenced and parodied, and with King himself recently working on a sequel of sorts, Warners are apparently musing on the idea that a Shining prequel is also in order.
Warners have stressed that the project is only at a very early stage of discussion and not even formally in development, but names are attached. Writer/producer Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and her partners Bradley Fischer (Black Swan) and James Vanderbilt (Zodiac) have been tasked with hammering out a potential direction for the film to take.
The Shining is, of course, the story of Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in the movie) going crazy in the snowbound Overlook Hotel, having holed up there for the winter with his wife and young son in an attempt to get some peace to write a novel. One of the many great ambiguities, especially in Kubrick's version, is whether the hotel is haunting Jack, or Jack is haunting the hotel.
So where could a prequel take us? The events of The Shining we know are informed by what's happened at the hotel in the past, so there's perhaps scope for something about previous caretaker Grady, who chopped up his daughters with an axe. Or the film could be a broader history of the hotel, from the time it was first built (on an Indian burial ground, natch) in the 1890s. We could go back even further, and tell a story about what cursed the land itself, and end with the beginnings of the hotel's construction, hinting at all the horrors to follow. We could investigate all those masked hotel guest ghosts. A very brave filmmaker could even attempt to explain the great mystery at the end of the film: how and why is Jack at the centre of a photograph taken in 1929?
Loads to draw on then, although whether we want answers to the many questions The Shining poses, is hugely debatable (give us your thoughts in the comments section below).
King's sequel Dr Sleep meanwhile, catches up with Danny Torrance in later life, and involves a tribe of vampiric immortals called The True Knot, who feed off the energy of children who can "shine". Our psychic abilities tell us there's bound to be an eventual film of that too, but there's no word of it yet. The book will be published by Hodder next January.