Warner Bros. is moving forward on its long-gestating Overlook Hotel, a prequel to The Shining predicated on the notion that hotels have lots of rooms—and haunted hotels have lots of haunted rooms, each of which can be explored across an untold number of sequels. But first up is a film directly adapted from Stephen King’s excised prologue to his 1977 novel, “Before The Play,” which told the story of the hotel’s founder, an early-20th-century robber baron named Bob T. Watson, who set out to build a grand resort where visitors could brutally murder each other in the lap of luxury. A script was commissioned last year from former Walking Dead showrunner Glen Mazzara, and now Variety reports that Mark Romanek is in talks to be the Overlook’s new caretaker, with all the job pressures and potential for ending up locked in a pantry talking to yourself that implies.
Romanek’s work on Static and One Hour Photo gives him experience with stories of dangerous compulsion, while Never Let Me Go proved he could handle unnerving stories set in deceptively pleasant buildings. What’s more, he showed a flair for macabre imagery in the many music videos he directed for the likes of Johnny Cash and Nine Inch Nails—and “macabre imagery” is obviously very important when telling the story of the Overlook’s construction, hewed from all those nightmarish bricks, unthinkable carpeting, and harrowing sconces. Of course, like Jack Torrance struggling with the specter of Charles Grady, Romanek will still have to shake off the legacy of Stanley Kubrick’s version. But making a clean break with the past is what The Shining is all about, right?