Love it or hate it, The Shining remake/miniseries set out to tell Stephen King’s legendary story the way King intended it. As I’m sure you’re aware, the author was never a fan of Kubrick’s classic film due to the many changes made to fit the director’s vision. Ultimately, Kubrick started with King’s story and made a Kubrick film out of it, and most agree that this is the superior screen version if not one of the greatest horror films (or even films) of all time.
The Garris project, which King wrote the teleplay for, first aired in 1997. Kubrick died just two years later in 1999, but he was alive when the miniseries was made, and according to Garris, he actually got a nice chunk of change out of it.
I’ve been listening to a ton of back episodes of Adam Green and Joe Lynch’s The Movie Crypt podcast lately. I love hearing the stories from filmmakers and other industry insiders and learning new things about the projects they’ve worked on. Seriously, it’s like crack for horror geeks. I recently listened to one from a couple years ago – episode 18 – which featured Mick Garris, and he noted something that I was completely unaware of despite having devoted a pretty good deal of my time on earth consuming content related to The Shining. I found where he mentioned it in an old Icons of Fright interview as well, but either way, it’s an interesting bit of trivia that a lot of people probably aren’t aware of.
“Kubrick got paid a million and a half dollars for us to be able to do a miniseries, and not many people know that,” Garris told Green. “And King had to sign an agreement saying he would not say anything bad about the Kubrick film. So these are little secrets you’re getting only on The Movie Crypt (laughs).”
According to the miniseries’ trivia section on IMDb, to re-obtain the rights from the Kubrick estate, King had to publicly recant his oft-voiced opinions of Kubrick’s film.
As Garris noted in the podcast, most people – particularly fans of King’s novel – didn’t really like Kubrick’s film when it came out. It took time for it to truly become recognized as the cinematic masterpiece that it is. By the time the remake was released, it had already achieved that status. Garris himself admitted on The Movie Crypt that he didn’t care much for Kubrick’s film when it was released as he was already a huge fan of King’s novel, but that he had come around to it over the years, recognizing it as a great Kubrick film, even if not a great King adaptation.
King says in the Author’s Note of his sequel novel Doctor Sleep (hat tip to Tasha Robinson), “The Shining is one of those novels people always mention (along with ‘Salem’s Lot, Pet Sematary, and It) when they talk about which of my books really scared the bejeezus out of them. Plus, of course, there was Stanley Kubrick’s movie, which many seem to remember – for reasons I have never quite understood – as one of the scariest films they have ever seen. If you have seen the movie but not read the novel, you should note that Doctor Sleep follows the latter, which is, in my opinion, the True History of the Torrance Family.)”
Here’s a video of King talking about Kubrick and his film, as he discusses Doctor Sleep and jokes about how he’s canceling out the film (another hat tip to Robinson).
“It’s like Stanley Kubrick was like the coldest guy in the universe,” he told the audience. “I outlived him though, didn’t I? Oh man, I even got hit by a car, and I still outlived him.”