On the surface, “Doctor Sleep” seemed to have it all. It was a sequel to the iconic horror film “The Shining”, had a renowned actor (Ewan McGregor) in the lead role, and it opened over Veterans Day weekend. Certainly, a market that always seems to cater for nostalgic sequels, especially horror ones, would turn out in droves for “Doctor Sleep.” Instead, this directorial effort by Mike Flanagan became a surprise box office non-starter and grossed just $ 71.8 million worldwide on a budget of $ 45 million.
Part of the problem here was that without “The Shining” in the title, “Doctor Sleep” had an uphill battle convincing people that it was actually a sequel to this Stanley horror classic. Kubrick. In the end, marketing ended up being caught between a rock and a hard place, with too many ads relying solely on callbacks to the original making it appear derivative, when the title itself didn’t never showed viewers that it continued the story and world of “The Shining”. It didn’t help that it was a more artistic genre of horror film, with a slower pace and fears derived from a weird atmosphere rather than just fears of cheap jumping. These qualities ensured that “Doctor Sleep” was received well enough not to be seen as a critical cash grab, but they also ensured that the audience on the fence had one more reason to stay away.