Warner Bros. has been planning a film adaptation of Stephen King’s 1,138 page novel It for the past three years. The last substantial report on the project was nearly two years ago, with an update from screenwriter David Kajganich (The Invasion, Blood Creek) about the challenge of fitting King’s massive literature into a 2-3 hour movie.
Now, we have word that the project is still lurching forward; however, It (no pun) has taken on a radically new form. King’s source material will now be covered over the course of two films, as co-written and directed by Cary Fukunaga. It’s probably safe to assume that Kajganich’s script draft has been abandoned, at this point.
Fukunaga began his career as a cinematographer, before breaking out as a writer and director with the immigration drama Sin Nombre at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. The critical success of last year’s Jane Eyre (which Fukunaga also helmed) has propelled the filmmaker to greater things, including a job working on the HBO TV series True Detectives – and now, the task of bringing It to the big screen.
Heat Vision says that Chase Palmer will co-write the It script with Fukunaga; the two are also collaborating on the upcoming No Blood, No Guts, No Glory. Onboard to produce the two-movie venture are such big names as seasoned horror producer Roy Lee (The Ring, Grudge), Dan Lin (Sherlock Holmes), and KatzSmith Production heads Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) and David Katzenberg (The Hard Times of RJ Berger).
King’s It novel tells the tale of the “Losers Club,” a pack of outcast teens living in Derry, Maine (circa 1957). The “Losers” discover that a vicious, shape-shifting monster – who often takes on the form of a demented clown called Pennywise – is preying on the town’s children. Eventually, the “Losers” seemingly kill the creature – though they swear a pact to reunite, should Pennywise ever come back. Sure enough, some 27 years later, a string of murders in Derry points to the monster’s return. But will painful memories of the past prevent the former friends from joining forces again, in order to destroy Pennywise once and for all?
It was previously adapted into a 3-hour, single-camera, TV mini-series back in 1990. As was pointed out by Kajganich (back when he was working on the project) that the TV version really could not do justice to the more gruesome and adult content of King’s literature. Moreover, Fukunaga will also have the advantage of an extra 1-2 hours of running time to cover the full story material – which is still a pretty daunting task, as the book is split between two parallel-running, intertwining narrative threads (one set in 1957-58, the other 1984-85).
As it were, Warner Bros. already has another movie adaptation of a King novel in the works, which was also previously brought to life in TV mini-series form: The Stand. Similar to It, The Stand is being overseen by a credible filmmaker (namely, Ben Affleck) and is expected to spread out its respective 1,000 pages of source material over the course of at least two, maybe even three, movies. While the studio definitely loves the built-in “franchise” potential of these King projects, both It and The Stand should benefit (artistically) from not being constricted to a single-movie format.
In this writer’s opinion, Fukunaga possesses an eye for impeccable, haunting cinematography (no surprise, given his background) and is a good match to handle King’s book – which is rife with dark melodrama and much of the religious/social commentary that are nowadays known as the author’s bread and butter, when it comes to his horror literature.
As to whether or not most people want to see a two-movie adaptation of It – feel free to debate that as you will, in the comments section.
We will keep you updated on the status of Fukunaga’s It adaptation as the story develops.