Filmmaker Mike Flanagan has had the unique opportunity to bring two of Stephen King’s novels to life on the big screen (with a third on the way) and he’s even managed to do the not always guaranteed task of delivering a good movie on both occasions. Given his now multiple adaptations, it’s not a stretch to learn that Flanagan and King have become friendly and in a recent interview the director has revealed a moment in his last film that King helped him to make work better. What might surprise some Constant Readers however is that King called for less violence in the film.
Speaking on the latest episode of The Kingcast, Flanagan revealed that he got to show him Doctor Sleep (his 2019 adaptation of the King book and a sequel to The Shining) personally, sitting next to him in a theater in King’s home of Bangor, Maine to watch it. While sitting next to him during the film though, Flanagan couldn’t help but take note of every gesture, noise, and twitch
“It’s a long movie, and it ran about three times as long for me I think as anyone else who’s ever watched it,” Flanagan said. “Every single thing he did in the seat next to me I was like ‘He hates it, he hates it, oh god he hates it.’”
The director noted one moment that caused Stephen King to fist pump though, the scene where Jacob Tremblay’s character is announced as being number Nineteen on his baseball team (19 being a recurring and important number throughout his books). His reaction to Tremblay’s on-screen death however triggered a different response from King.
“It was one of the only times he leaned over to me during the movie was when Tremblay got killed,” Flanagan added. “He leaned over and he was like ‘That’s a little brutal isn’t it?’ I was like ‘S*** I gotta go back, I gotta go back and edit this. I gotta pull stuff out.’ And we did, we changed it. We backed off….He said to me after as we talked about that, that was his only note for the movie really was, ‘That one’s gonna hurt…You need that, you’re right, but I would have a hard time showing this to my wife so you should think about pulling it back.’ And he was right.”
Flanagan also spoke of the philosophy that King revealed to him regarding adaptations of his books, of which there have been many and a fair sum also that were received poorly. None of that matters to King though, because the books are still there.
“My big fear was if Steve hates something I do with his work, I don’t know what I’m going to do, I’m going to carry that with me forever,” Flanagan said. “But he said ‘Well no, the thing is if the movie’s good people say ‘Of course it’s good, the book was good,’ and if the movie is bad they say ‘The book is better.'” Flanagan revealed King’s conclusion as: “I win either way.’”
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