The series is loosely based on Sarah Winchester and The Winchester "Mystery" House. The story has noticeably strong ties to Shirley Jackson's book which was made into the movie, The Haunting (1963) which Stephen King has mentioned was one of his favorite novels.
Fans of Stephen King books may notice numerous references to his first novel Carrie, which also deals with a telekinetic girl. The raining stones and telekinetic girl named Annie are both directly from the novel "Carrie".
Stephen King said he wanted the series to be the Moby Dick of haunted house movies. Something big, scary and hard to forget. He also wanted the mansion to look user-friendly and not forbidding, including cozy interiors with warm and inviting colours. More than 400 carpenters worked on the sets between May and October 2000. The sets were so vast some of the cast got lost on them.
According to Stephen King, Steven Spielberg wanted to do the scariest "haunted house" movie and asked him to write the story. By the time he was able to write it, Spielberg had moved on to other projects. The film was made as another of King's mini-series projects for the ABC television network.
ABC filmed this original Stephen King mini-series movie at Thornewood Castle in Tacoma, Washington. Restoration, construction and filming for the movie took six months in 2000. The fictional Rose Red Mansion in the film was located at 9th & Madison in Downtown Seattle - in reality this location is a Bridge, crossing the I-5 corridor leading to St. James Cathedral. The road does not dead end.
A week after Steven Spielberg left the project, Stephen King had his car accident. After a few months of recuperation, King began work on the script. The finished draft was hardly edited throughout filming.
Craig R. Baxley was amazed by the rock scene, but Stephen King's favourite effects shot was when the courtyard statue pulled her face off. They wanted to keep the effects grounded, but in reality 350 visual were used overall. The library floor effect was achieved with the actress wading through a concealed pool, wearing a scotch guard so it wouldn't get wet. The temperature was reportedly 30 degrees.
When Stephen King was still considering making Rose Red (2002) as a feature film with Steven Spielberg, the two had many creative disagreements over the tone of the film. Spielberg demanded more in the way of thrills and action sequences, while King was dead set on cerebral horrors. Eventually they couldn't come to an understanding and the project was shelved with King buying back the rights to the script. You get an idea of the kind of horror film Spielberg wanted to make with the subsequent Monster House (2006).
After work on the script was delayed by Stephen King's automobile accident, he finished a revised screenplay of "Rose Red" in a month, recasting it as a mini-series instead. The writing proved very therapeutic for King: "I was using the work as dope, basically, because it worked better than anything they were giving me to ease the pain. It was difficult pen-pushing for 45 minutes a day, but it was vital to get back into work, because you have to break the ice somehow. I'm either continuing with the work or I'm not. And if I can do this, maybe I can walk, or resume some kind of human intercourse. Work seemed a logical place to start."
During Joyce's tutorial on Rose Red, one member of the group is about to write "bullshit" on a pad. The shot cuts away before they can finish the word, however, because the network censors would never allow such a harsh expletive, even a written one.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
Just like in Stephen King's The Shining (1980), the line - "Not by the hair on your chinny chin chin" - is used, and Joyce's spirit becomes a part of the mansion (as does Jack Torrance's become part of the Overlook Hotel). Both buildings also explode in the end, and they share some of the same soundtrack.