Dumbest Prequel Idea Of All Time

On 7.28 L.A. Times guy Steven Zeitchik reported that Hollywood writer-producer Laeta Kalogridis and partners Bradley Fischer and James Vanderbilt have been hired by Warner Bros. to try and whip together a prequel to Stanley Kubrick‘s The Shining.

The idea, says Zeitchik, would be to “focus on what happened before Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 film), his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) arrived at the Overlook Hotel where Torrance soon descends into violent madness,” blah blah.

That is really, really a dumb-ass idea. If I was running Warner Bros. I would can the person who dreamt it up. And then I would have him/her physically escorted off the lot. Because Jack Torrance was just a failed writer with an off-and-on drinking issue before he was hired as an Overlook caretaker, a guy who accidentally dislocated his son’s shoulder and then promised to stop drinking, etc. He’s a loser. He’s boring. He’s tedious. (Original Shining author Stephen King found Jack in the inner recesses of his own life and personality before he hit it big as a writer.)

If you want to milk The Shining, create a mini-series in which the main characters are cool-sexy-evil ghosts in the same sense that the vampires in True Blood are cool-sexy-evil. Each new episode would be about these long-dead phantoms — two hot girls and two hot guys, say, who come from different periods (the 1890s, the ’20s, the ’40s) and have been haunting the Overlook for decades and getting into all kinds of dark, foul stuff, but mainly into the heads of various guests who stay at the Overlook, as well as various maids and caretakers (including Delbert Grady) and administrators who work there, and making them act out their worst, darkest impulses. Or something like that. But forget Loser Jack.

Incidentally: Danny Lloyd is either a professor of biology at a community college in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, or a teacher of sciences in Missouri — or both. He will turn 40 years old on January 1, 2013.

  • Username Schmoozername

    Tracy Morgan IS Dick Halloran.

  • Tristan Eldritch2

    People have gone CRAZY for ridiculous prequel ideas. Isn’t someone trying to do a prequel to RAGING BULL as well?

  • Jesse Crall

    “No tv and no beer make Homer…something, something.”
    “Go crazy?”
    “DON’T MIND IF I DO!”

    Wasn’t it Wilder who said start as deep into the story as you can? A prequel would just be 2 hours of introduction to a story that has already been told pretty goddamn well.

  • Cadavra

    Does Warners really have the rights to do this without King’s approval? I’m guessing not.

  • DiscoNap

    Is it possible they intend to do a prequel about the Overlook Hotel before the Torrances? Because otherwise this really is psychotically stupid.

  • The Lord of Misrule

    Not certain if this is common knowledge or not but Mr. King *is* writting a sequel to “The Shining” called “Dr. Sleep”.

    It’s due out in January.

  • lazarus

    Yeah, that’s how I read it.

    Before we cry for the heads at Warner Bros, it should be noted that King himself will soon be releasing a sequel to The Shining featuring Danny’s character.

    The desperation is contagious, it seems.

  • AH

    Following up on Cadavra’s comment, would this go ahead without King’s approval? I know he isn’t happy with Kubrick’s version but I find it hard to believe that King would sign off on this.

  • arispil

    This is NEVER happening. Nothing to see here, move on…

  • troothy

    Why is it that everyone but Wells realizes that the prequel idea doesn’t involve the Torrances?

  • great scott

    Isn’t WB also doing a Blade Runner prequel or sequel or remake or something? What other classics could they do prequels to? Maybe Dirty Harry might be next if they can find an actor brave enough to play a part owned by a legend like Eastwood.

  • Mr. F.

    “Incidentally: Danny Lloyd is either a professor of biology at a community college in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, or a teacher of sciences in Missouri — or both. He will turn 40 years old on January 1, 2013.”

    Better idea:

    SCRAP the Shining prequel idea.

    Instead, do a horror movie about Danny Lloyd, who somehow is simultaneously a biology professor in Kentucky AND a science teacher in Missouri. Which side of his identity is the “real” Danny? He has to hurry to figure it out — because when 2012 becomes 2013 and Danny turns 40, HIS BAD SIDE WILL CONSUME HIM FOREVER.

    Nah. It’s been done.

    But it’s still better than a SHINING prequel.

  • Ray DeRousse

    That mini-series idea is pretty bad, too.

    Without Kubrick, THE SHINING is a flaccid, boring, TV movie of the week.

    Kubrick is dead.

    This should never be touched again.

  • Glenn Kenny

    Sometimes Wells sounds like Lieutenant Bradshaw rhapsodizing about how cool it’ll be when he can send Nick Danger up the river and start a show of his own…

  • Jeffrey Wells

    Wait a minute…

    “The idea, says Zeitchik, would be to ‘focus on what happened before Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson in the 1980 film), his wife Wendy (Shelley Duvall) and their psychic son Danny (Danny Lloyd) arrived at the Overlook Hotel where Torrance soon descends into violent madness,’ blah blah.”

    That, to me, describes a prequel about those nutty Torrances. If Zeitchik was saying the prequel is about the Overlook BEFORE the Torrances arrive, then he didn’t say it clearly or precisely enough. It’s not that hard. I just did it.

  • Mr. F.

    There is NO WAY this is about the Torrances pre-SHINING. It’s about the Overlook. Not saying Zeitchik wasn’t unclear… but I think 9 out of 10 people understood the point. (You were just the 1 out of 10, Wells.)

    We’re talking about one of the most respected actors of their generation here, a draw in both artistic, intellectual films and big-budget movies. You CANNOT CAST a younger version of them as that character and ask audiences to accept that. Sure, they may be a little unusual looking, but they have an undeniable, quirky appeal to the opposite sex.

    Because Shelley Duvall is truly an American original.

  • Jack Razor

    I don’t know if that’s such a bad idea. The Shinning was basically a haunted house flick. If they could back and focus on the kid and his abilities and how there are others like him and how these very abilities has lead him to other very dangerous paths before, it could be interesting. But I think it would probably better as a TV show.

  • Bob Hightower

    Without Welles, CITIZEN KANE is a flaccid, boring TV movie of the week.

    (Corollary to the above idiocy.)

  • Ghost of Kazan

    You have to be trying to fail to interpret this idea as a film about the Torrances. Good grief. I was thinking this post was a put-on.

    Schmoozername nailed the best possible angle right off the bat, but to play his idea seriously….CHEADLE POWER.

  • PastePotPete

    “I don’t know if that’s such a bad idea”

    Please watch The Thing prequel and consider again whether it’s a bad idea or not.

    That prequel, which was basically a remake in prequel clothing(as this Shining prequel most likely is) cribs so many of the major beats and scares from the original that it sucks all the vitality out of it. It’s depressing, really.

    My only hope is that faux prequels like that fade away in the public consciousness like the shoddy Jaws and Psycho sequels did.

  • Krillian

    Yeah, The Thing prequel was basically a remake except for the end.

    I can think of worse ideas than a Shining prequel. It sounds like it’d be about the Overlook Hotel before the Torrances got there, and that has potential. Hey, the Planet of the Apes prequel turned out okay.

    Worse ideas than a Shining prequel:

    Thursday the 12th – About young Jason Voorhees and his overprotective mother right before he heads off to camp.

    The Eggs – Guess which Hitchcock movie this is a prequel to.

    Tron: The Pong Years

  • Alobar

    As long as no one dares attempt to create a bullshit prequel to THE WIZARD OF OZ…

  • Michael Mayo

    “The Shining” prequel will be directed by Christopher Nolan and star Leo as a failed alcoholic writer living in Boulder who suddenly comes up with an idea for a novel about a failed alcoholic writer who gets a winter caretaker job at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park and discovers it’s haunted and trying to drive him mad. As Leo starts to write his novel, he gradually realizes he can’t tell whether his life in Boulder with wife Marion Cotillard is real or the novel’s world is real, especially when the Rocky Mountains start folding down over Boulder and he can’t seem to find the end of the Boulder Mall, which seems to keep repeating no matter which direction he goes in. The movie ends (OR DOES IT!!!) with Leo getting a phateful phone call from the Stanley Hotel. Guest appearances by JGL as “Lloyd the Bartender” and Tom Hardy as “Delbert Grady”…

  • Jeffmc2000

    Best case scenario if this gets made, (and if it does, I bet it’s called “The Overlook: A Prequel to The Shining”) is that it’s it’s an unrelated ghost story set in the past that just uses the familiar iconography of the hotel for effect.

    Worst case scenario is it actually tries to give origin stories for the the bathtub hag, the two little girls, and the perverted furry, thereby retroactively tainting the original. I say flip a coin as to which way Warners want to go, because both seem equally likely.

  • MarkJ

    The only good prequel i’ve ever seen was the hour of Robert DeNiro in The Godfather Part II.

  • Jesse Crall

    @MarkJ: Yup, and those scenes were taken from the original novel.

  • http://evemcfadden.wordpress.com Eve

    I, too, took Zeitchik’s comment to mean that the prequel would focus on the Overlook, not the Torrances. Not that I think they should do a prequel. But since what happens to Jack Torrance happens at the Overlook, it’s like Jeff says — Jack isn’t that important. He’s just the guy who went to the Overlook and was affected.

    On the other hand, if it was Danny that had the shining ability, then what is the prequel about? A haunted hotel, or a psychici/paranormal ability shared by people?

  • Movie Watcher

    This is on the same level as King writing a sequel to the shining: I need more money. I can’t think up a new story so I will pimp out an old one…for money!

  • Movie Watcher

    Hey, don’t forget Delbert Grady and the two little girls…

  • Ponderer

    It could be worse. This could be a prequel to the godawful, misbegotten, absurdly literal TV version of The Shining, which King somehow made for an acceptable alternative to Kubrick’s version.

    The only serious thing I have against King is this. In my dreams, I see myself confronting him: “You think this is better? You think it’s better because it’s more pedantic and FAITHFUL? Fuck you! I’LL SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND!”

    (Sorry, wrong hotel there.)

  • arispil

    Not to mention that the Hotel in this prequel will be a pale imitation of what Kubrick built in England. What a joke

  • Eloi Wrath

    “On the other hand, if it was Danny that had the shining ability, then what is the prequel about? A haunted hotel, or a psychici/paranormal ability shared by people?”

    That’s kind of the problem I’ve always had with The Shining. What’s the point of Danny’s ability really? It almost seems like a second unnecessary layer of supernatural stuff on top of a haunted house story. I gather Kubrick cut a lot of it out anyway. But it’s still an awesome film – I just never really saw the point of Danny’s powers.

  • Eloi Wrath

    I can also guarantee that whoever directs this will completely abandon the well-lit look of the Overlook Hotel and think of some convenient reason for all the lights to go off so everything takes place in the dark, with numerous jump-scares around every corner.

  • Raising_Kaned

    “That mini-series idea is pretty bad, too.

    Without Kubrick, THE SHINING is a flaccid, boring, TV movie of the week.”

    @DeRousse: And it was precisely that, quite literally, back in the late ’90s. Jack Nicholson to Steven Weber is like going from a major league all-star to a struggling AA utility guy.

    @JeffMc2000: I’d be more or less okay with your former scenario (although the branding would still bother me a little bit), but it feels like we almost end up enduring the latter scenario (Hannibal Rising, Dumb & Dumber 2, the aforementioned Thing. I pretty much blame George Lucas for most of this, even though I suppose at least the craftsmanship in those films was at a high enough level that the fatal narrative flaw (we’re basically sitting around twiddling our thumbs for 6 hours waiting for the last act of Sith) becomes a little more tolerable.

    Good prequels? GF2 (duh), TP: FWWM (not perfect, but I still dig it), IJ&tToD (ditto), TG,TB & TU (if you count that), Abrams’ Star Trek (I’m sure MarkJ agrees).

    And more recently, I thought First Class and Prometheus were actually much better than fine.

    “That’s kind of the problem I’ve always had with The Shining. What’s the point of Danny’s ability really? It almost seems like a second unnecessary layer of supernatural stuff on top of a haunted house story.”

    Yeah, I was never really sure how that was supposed to tie in, either. I think it was possibly intended to represent a mystically symbolic way for Danny to “even the playing field” against his abusive father but — like a lot of King’s ideas — it’s rather sloppily deployed, IMHO (never quite understood why that guy still pumps out as many novels as he does; why not slow down a bit and see if you can write something that doesn’t feel like you’re racing to the finish?).

    Anyway, I think Kubrick might have been more than happy to consider throwing all that stuff out completely, but then you have the issue that it was a best-seller, and it’s the entire title of the fucking thing, so…

  • Raising_Kaned

    Perhaps more pressingly, though, if they ever decide to go the a direct-sequel route — I’ll be the first to start an online petition for our man Zelter to claim the role he was rightfully born to play.

  • JohnCope

    A friend of mine lent me a copy of a literary magazine he had kept from years ago (the name escapes me at the moment) which was notable for featuring Stephen King’s excised original opening to The Shining, which was a prequel of sorts taking place well before the main events of the novel. If I remember correctly it was set during the onset of the Great Depression and there was an attempt to parallel the personal descent into disarray and despair with the Hotel as force for a slide into madness. Anyway, so it’s not like there isn’t already existing material to go this route should they choose to.

  • JLC

    @Glenn Kenny, Firesign Theater shout-outs are always welcome.

    And I don’t know how you can call this the Dumbest Prequel Idea of All Time in a world where Butch and Sundance: The Early Days, Hannibal Rising, Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd and Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace all exist.

  • Kakihara

    Wasn’t that failed 1997 tv movie enough?

  • Ponderer

    You’d think so, but if they can figure out a way to dig up and reanimate Scatman Crothers for this, I’m ALL in.

  • Mr. F.

    “You’d think so, but if they can figure out a way to dig up and reanimate Scatman Crothers for this, I’m ALL in.”

    Why bother? They can do it with motion capture and CG. Zemeckis can make his triumphant return to animated features, and it can cost $250 million to make.

    Best of all: it will perfectly show off the characters’ lifeless eyes.

  • Ponderer

    That’s the easy way to do it, yes. But I’ve maintained for years, and continue to do so, that the world would be immeasurably improved by the arrival of Scatman Crothers, Zombie Edition.

  • Cadavra

    “TP: FWWM”

    Okay, been wracking my brain all day and can’t figure this one out…

  • Raising_Kaned

    Cadavra — Lynch’s Twin Peaks feature.

  • Kakihara

    Now that I think about it, didn’t they try the prequel route with the last Exorcist movie, too? Twice. And no one gave a fuck, then, either.

  • Raising_Kaned

    Dunno, I actually quite like Schrader’s Dominion (for what it was, anyway).

  • Krillian

    Rise of the Planet of the Apes

  • Jack Razor

    The point would be people with these abilities tend to find places such as these, horrible places, haunted places. But the kid being so immature with his powers would not know what to do with them. But he would be the reason they went at this Hotel by giving psychic suggestions to his parents. More I think about this, It would work better as a sequel wth the kid having grown up and he learn what he is about. Then you see him having mastered his powers but when all seems fine you throw him into the most fucked up place ever and he goes on a murderous rampage too.

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