For a long time, Warner Bros. adaptation of Stephen King’s IT looked doomed to languish in development hell. It was first announced in 2009 and True Detective‘s Cary Fukunaga was attached to the project for almost three years before the whole thing fell apart in 2015. However, things quickly righted themselves – Mama‘s Andrés Muschietti took over the director’s chair, Bill Skarsgård put on the clown shoes and the movie’s now on course for a September 2017 release.
Everything released so far has suggested the filmmakers are trying to make the best version of King’s story possible. Skarsgård’s take on Pennywise looks way more innately unsettling than Tim Curry’s more coiled take from the 1990 two-part TV movie and, based on recent comments, the movie is going all in on the horror.
“It is a rated-R movie. If you’re going to make a “Rated-R movie”, you have to fully embrace what it is, and you have to embrace the source material. It is a scary clown that’s trying to kill kids. So of course that’s going to be a rated-R movie. The kids are amazing. You very much get a Stand by Me vibe as far as their camaraderie and the way they joke with each other and that they really care for each other. They do have a scary clown that’s taken over the town of Derry, so it’s going to be rated R.”
While the movie’s story is ostensibly about kids, IT is hardly a children’s film and the confirmation that the Warners isn’t holding back on the presumed intensity is good news for King fans; it’s not clear how far IT will go, but a PG-13 take would risk being too sanitized. The Stand By Me comparison is also a heartening one, suggesting that Muschietti hasn’t lost sight of the childhood friendship in the nastiness.
Of course, fans of the book (or the 1990s miniseries) will know that the children taking on Pennywise is only half of the story – the second part of King’s novel deals with the characters as adults finally vanquishing their evil tormentor once and for all. In the interview, Lin also commented on the long-stated intention to bring this to life:
“Naturally that’s the plan. If you look at the book, it’s the part of the book that we have not yet explored. The book we really broke down into two parts. The first part is this movie and if audiences react to this movie in the way we hope they will and I think they will, then we’ll be to tell the adult story as well.”
IT was planned to first announced as a two-parter, with a similar structure to the 1990 version. While the project is now just one film initially, these comments confirm that telling King’s full book is still the full plan.