Director Cary Fukunaga, of Jane Eyre (2011) and True Detective season one fame, is preparing to begin production this summer on It: a film adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling horror/coming of age novel. King’s source material, as many are aware, is quite massive (certain prints are well over one thousand pages); hence Fukunaga’s plan is to split the original book’s narrative into two movies.
The first It film adaptation will focus around a group of children from Derry, Maine, who become close friends while battling a supernatural monster – one which takes on the form of a clown named Pennywise. It Part 2, assuming it gets the green-light, will pick up with the kids as adults, when Pennywise re-enters their lives – meaning, the actor playing “It” will be the sole lead featured in both features.
Variety is reporting that (surprisingly) Will Poulter has been selected by Fukunaga to play Pennywise in his It feature adaptations. Poulter appeared in the third Chronicles of Narnia film adaptation, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, before he broke-out with his comedic turn in the hit R-Rated comedy We’re the Millers. He’s since played an antagonist in popular YA dystopia novel-turned movie The Maze Runner.
Pennywise, of course, was brought to life in a memorably over the top performance by Tim Curry, in the 1990 It TV mini-series. Variety reports that Fukunaga chose Poulter after being “blown away” by his audition, after the filmmaker had looked at such older characters actors as Mark Rylance (The Gunman) and Ben Mendelsohn (Bloodline) to play the role. Furthermore, Variety‘s sources report that Poulter has already begun generating buzz with his villainous turn in the upcoming film The Revenant, from Birdman director Alejandro González Iñárritu.
Truth be told, though, it’s not that difficult to envision Poulter playing a weird and twisted villain like Pennywise right now. Just imagine if he brought the same wide-eyed oddness and mania he had in We’re the Millers, but applied it to a murderous creature, instead of an unusual (but likable) young man. Curry’s take on the character will be hard to top, for those who’ve seen the 1990 mini-series; going with Poulter may result in a very different version of the monster, as to better differentiate the new Pennywise from his impressionable predecessor.
Fukunaga penned the It movie scripts with his writing collaborator Chase Palmer, and Stephen King has given his blessing to the project – having sent back the message of “Go with God, please!” to Fukunaga after he read the screenplays, according to producer Dan Lin. The original story’s settings have apparently been changed for the film versions; meaning, the main characters will be children in the 1980s and grown-ups in the present day, unlike in King’s source material (where the “present-day” was the 1980s, i.e. when the novel was published).
Fans of King’s original novel have already expressed some concerns abut the timeline changes, but (like the casting of Poulter as Pennywise) the move could be vital in not just “modernizing” the story – but also in differentiating Fukunaga’s adaptation from its TV mini-series predecessor. Either way, it sounds like an intriguing project, so we anticipate learning more about it, and soon.
It begins production this summer, but a release date has not yet been announced.