The director of the newest adaptation of Stephen King’s IT explains what he had to change from the initial script written by Cary Fukunaga (who left due to creative differences) and Chase Palmer, what he had to cut, and what he’d like to include in the planned sequel.
Fukunaga wrote the initial version of the movie’s script, which moved the setting of the past scenes from the 1950s to the 1980s and had a two-part structure in mind from the beginning, but he later left due to creative differences with the studio. In an interview with Collider, Muschietti praised Fukunaga’s original script for its structure and character development, but there was a key thing that didn’t sit well with him regarding the script’s portrayal of Pennywise:
“It was a good script, in terms of characters and the depth of characters and such, but it didn’t really tap into one of the most attractive traits of the character [Pennywise], which was the shape-shifting qualities. So that’s one of the things that I started talking about.”
In addition, Muschietti’s wife Barbara (who is producing the movie) mentioned that the spirit of the Fukunaga draft is alive in the movie, but they changed it in a way to stick closer to the director’s personal approach to storytelling:
“I think what we brought to the table was Andy’s [style] and how he faces fear and how he needs to have very emotional characters and it’s very easy with this root material. I think those are two aspects, emotions and fear were imprinted in the script that was developed with us with Gary Dauberman, much more to our taste. And then the notion of the power of belief as a resolution, and power in unity. These guys need each other to face Pennywise and to fight him, and they’re alone, they’re losers and they never really — in our movie, there are no resolutions with the outside world, so they don’t necessarily solve the conflicts with their parents. That’s what their real lives are and continue to be, all they have is each other. That’s very much our movie.”
Furthermore, Muschietti himself spoke more about three scenes that didn’t make it into the movie – one (the Black Spot Massacre) that he wants to save for the sequel, and two that were too costly to film:
“They were able to [incorporate it into the script], but they were not able to incorporate it into the budget. Just like we weren’t able to, but it’s going on the second…that sequence with the Black Spot, we think it’s gonna be a great opening for the next film… [Then] there’s a flashback, that sort of portrays the first encounter of It and humans, which is an amazing scene. And the other is a dream, where Bill sees— he’s leaning on a bridge, in Derry, and he’s spitting on the Kenduskeag Stream, and suddenly he sees the reflection of a balloon. And he looks up and it’s not one balloon, but a bunch of balloons, and then he starts to see body parts, and the shot goes wider and it’s a multitude of dead kids floating. I couldn’t afford it.”
As it stands, the movie seems like it’s sticking closely to the spirit of the original novel, even though there’s a setting update involved. Hopefully IT will do well enough to ensure that the sequel will float, too.
IT will bring terror to the big screen on September 8, 2017, featuring a cast that includes Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (IT), Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough, Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom, Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon, and Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris. A sequel covering the events from the second half of the book is planned (as this adaptation only covers the first half), although no release date has been set.
10 Stephen King Adaptations Hollywood Needs To Get Right
With The Dark Tower and It, two of King’s most famous and beloved works, reaching the big screen, it feels like the gates are opening on a new age of Stephen King adaptations
Already we’ve seen 1) a new Carrie movie, 2) Under the Dome and 11/22/63 get TV adaptations 3) Netflix’s upcoming Gerald’s Game, 4) a TV series based on the Mr. Mercedes trilogy, 5) Josh Boone looks to make Revival his follow-up to X-Men: The New Mutants, 5) a new version of Hearts in Atlantis is in the works (just called Hearts) and 6) a Cujo remake, with the amazing title of C.U.J.O. Even Cell got made, plus a personal favorite of mine The Mist is back in the form of a new Syfy series airing later this year (based on both the original novella and Frank Darabont’s superb 2007 film).
Our age of cinematic universes feels tailor-made for the world-renowned author. King is known not only for his productivity but for how his stories interlock together in the same universe (multiverse, if you want to get specific). His entire oeuvre is connected by characters, locations, and events, all centered around the literal and figurative Dark Tower, the structure and book series sit at the center of King’s worlds. Of course, no one entity owns the rights to all of King’s works, so we won’t be seeing, say, Pennywise the Dancing Clown say hi to Idris Elba’s gunslinger in a movie anytime soon, but it speaks to King’s continued relevance.
There are, of course, the adaptations that are sacrosanct and need to no update, plus others where we are simply waiting to see if they happen. Speaking of Darabont, he delivered a trilogy of amazing King adaptations in my opinion between The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. Rob Reiner also mastered the artform, giving us Stand by Me and Misery. There’s already a perfectly-good The Dead Zone movie and TV show. The Tommyknockers and Desperation got the miniseries treatment in 1991 and 2006, respectively. The latter came with a teleplay by King himself, while the former was announced for a new miniseries back in 2013 along with Rosemary’s Baby, the failure of which may have something to do with the radio silence since the announcement. The Shining is actually not one, with King famously disliking the Stanley Kubrick film enough to make a miniseries of his own to “correct” the record (and a Shining prequel is first on our list).
While some works defy or seek re-adaptation, the breadth of the man’s work means there’s plenty of new stuff to mine in the coming years as well. Click Next to learn which to watch out for!
Honorable mentions: The Dark Half, Dolores Claiborne, Apt Pupil, Dreamcatcher