Updates on the ‘Pet Sematary’ and ‘It’ Remakes

Published 5 years ago by , Updated February 11th, 2014 at 5:52 am,

pet sematary it header Updates on the Pet Sematary and It Remakes

It turns out tackling two Stephen King adaptations can be as harrowing an experience as the nightmares faced by the characters in one of his novels. Screenwriter David Kajganich recently chatted with King fansite Lilja’s Library about his work on the Pet Sematary remake and the upcoming big-screen version of It.

Kajganich revealed his approach to Pet Sematary and his enthusiasm for the source material:

“I should say up front that Pet Sematary is my favorite King novel and adapting it was one of the best screenwriting experiences I’ve had, creatively speaking. In its modern way, I think it is easily the equal of anything in the literary canon by Hawthorne or Poe, so I approached the book as a piece of literature as opposed to a horror concept to be pillaged. It was a pure pleasure.”

However, an unfortunate turn of events derailed his plans:

“After I turned in my first draft, Paramount went through a top-down regime change and I was given a new executive who had creative ideas I just couldn’t stand behind. They wanted to appeal to younger audiences, so there was talk of making a teenaged Ellie the main character, and etc. It was really heartbreaking, but that’s how the process works sometimes. The studio was gracious enough to let me out of my contract and the project was dormant at the studio until very recently.”

Matthew Greenburg was later brought on board to write a new script after his work on another King adaptation, 1408. While Kajganich confirms that the Pet Sematary remake is still moving forward, he’s unclear what direction they’ve decided to take with it.

Luckily, he seems to be having a better experience with It. Apparently the big screen version of the mammoth-sized novel will bear little resemblance to the early 90s TV miniseries:

“I think the Pennywise in this adaptation is a less self-conscious of his own irony and surreality than was Tim Curry’s Pennywise. I think it will be harder to laugh at his antics since, under the permissiveness of an R rating, I was able to give him back a lot of his more upsetting moments from the novel, ones that could never be aired on network television.”

it pennywise Updates on the Pet Sematary and It Remakes

He also reveals the challenges of condensing such an expansive narrative:

I think the biggest difference is that we’re working with about two-thirds the onscreen time they had for the miniseries. That sounds dire, I know, but it doesn’t necessarily mean two-thirds the amount of story. I’m finding as many ways as I can to make certain scenes redundant by deepening and doubling others. To me, this is an interesting process because it has the effect of thematically intensifying the whole, but it can lead to dramatic surprises. Certain scenes I thought would be crucial to the coherence of the whole ended up cut, while other scenes, which were somewhat cursory in the book, ended up being pivotal in the script.”

While I’m generally opposed to remakes, Pet Sematary and It are two properties I don’t think they necessarily nailed the first time out. I’m particularly excited about the prospect of an R-rated version of It. Even though Tim Curry’s performance inspired many a nightmare when I was a kid, anyone that’s read the book knows that it’s infinitely more horrifying and disturbing than what was depicted in the miniseries. It does seem like an awful lot of ground to cover in just two hours, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that they manage to deliver a solid adaptation.

How do you feel about the Pet Sematary remake and the feature film version of It? Were you satisfied with the previous adaptations or are you excited for a new take on the material?

Source: Lilja’s Library.

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  1. Sir I salute you.

    “The studio was gracious enough to let me out of my contract and the project was dormant at the studio until very recently.”

    Sorry to see it is not working out. At least you were not paprmount in the creating of:

    David Kajganich
    Stephen Kings:
    Twilight: Pet UnSymmetry

  2. “IT”, is my favorite Stephen King Novel. I am glad they are redoing IT because the R-rating is going to make a difference. I really wish they would make IT longer but this guy sounds like he may be on the right track. I could see how mixing some of the scenes could work to create something wild. I just really hope they do IT justice and I am ready to hear more bout it.

    • they need to two-part a novel like that, no way it’d work as a single movie, even at over a over 2 hour run time

      • I agree. I loe this book, and I would rather have to wait for a conclusion to a two- or three-part series of films rather than see such a great story condensed down to one film. However they decide to do it, though, it’s going to be fun to start speculating on who will be cast in this.

        • I definitely would not mind seeing IT in 2 parts, released back to back.

          • Totally agree.

      • I think they can get away with a two-hour IT film, i know it would leave a lot of things out, but if done right, for example, if it all started with the phone calls, and little by little, the characters could “remember” their childhoods through the use of flashbacks, then it could work. The flashbacks would have to be visually stunning in order to replace the whole story, although they should not leave out the apocalyptic rock fight.

        I also believe that a good director for this film could have been Guillermo Del Toro. If you guys saw “Pan’s Labyrinth” you could see how this guy could pretty much tell a fairy-tale/fantasy inside a grim setting, which is really what IT was. I mean, yes, it was scary, but there were moments in the book in which i felt a sense of comfort and magic; example, the mentioned rock-fight, the way Ben, Richie and Bev were able to fend off Henry and the gang with an almost magical quality (or being helped by the turtle, which I wouldn’t recommend being shown in the film, unless it was Guillermo del Toro at work).

        Anyway, i hate the fact that there are no news about it; I’m starting to get a little impatient.

        • Yea I agree there’s a chance It could work as one movie but breaking into a Young movie and an Old movie would make for an incredibly epic one two punch.

  3. I’m not sure, I was reading It during Christmas, and it definitely needs more than two hours for it to work. But the guy does sound really passionate about it, and the R rating really could bring in a lot of the more disturbing stuff from the book, so let’s hope it works.

  4. as far as a updated version of pet semetary, HELL no, King would have a fit anyway, and i hope he’d do everythng in his power to block such a travesty lol

    • As great as that movie was, if they do it more true to the story it will be awesome. Unfortunately, the movie company sounds intent of f’ing it up.

  5. The remake of “IT” is very exciting to me, It is one of the only movies that has ever scared me, of course it was when I was a kid, but still. Looking foward to it. Does anyone recommend the book?

    • Aaron, you saw the tv mini series but have read the book? wow…GO out this minute and get the book, after reading it, you’ll agree that it never shoulda been made as a tv mini series lol. It is Kings scariest book by far, and one of his very very best.

      • What does mini series mean though? I keep thinking it means a show or something. Is that just what the tv movie is called? And I think I will now. I have yet to read a scary book.

        • mini series are generally tv movies that are over two hours, and run on nights in succession, like Rose Red, The Stand.

  6. “IT” is the reason I have a slight Phobia of Clowns. (the creepy looking ones at least). Looking forward to this one.

      • Tim Curry did a hella-good job as Pennywise, but he was the only half-decent thing about the movie. The rest of the cast were completely mis-cast… which sucked because they’re all good actors, then & now. It definitely deserves a remake, but this news doesn’t sound good. I’m with y’all here… break it into two movies, I don’t see how it can be done any other way.

        • exactly gretchen, i first read It in the summer of ’87, got half way, put it away(yes it scared me that bad) picked it back up when school resumed that year, and have since read it maybe 15 times or so. that book had every classic monster in it, it was awesome

        • I agree. 1200+ page book turned into a 3 hour film? Sounds difficult.

  7. Hmmm, I’m not that excited about the direction of the IT remake.

    The first one succeeded as being one of the most terrifying things I’ve ever experienced and I know many others feel the same way. It did so without the gore/violence that they seem to be going for. It was all about atmosphere, acting and truly disturbing images. The remakes seems to have the “torture porn” feel to it, which I despise.

    Furthermore, the last 1/4 of the book kind of lost me…it was too “out there” whereas the first 3/4 of the book was absolutely terrifying and easy to relate to.

    Just my 2 cents. I will still watch both and I actually just picked up 5 Stephen King books. Getting back into horror novels after reading The Exorcist, which also scared the crap out of me.

  8. Has Hollywood run out of original ideas already? Just because a movie was a hit in the 80′s doesn’t mean the remake will be a hit now.

  9. ok.. i know its outta the topic but can you suggest any other good scary novels… can’t find any… stephen’s tommy knockers kinda sucked

    • Tappy, I agree, “Tommyknockers” was decent, but not his best. IMHO, “Misery” is the scariest book he’s written, hands down. “IT” was one of the goriest and grossest, definitely scary, but what made “Misery” so good is that the characters and situation could absolutely be real. It’s a cliche, but RUN, don’t walk, to your library and get it. Now. Go!

      • misery scary??!?!? i found it more funny than scary.

        • Tommyknockers to me wasnt about scare tactics, was more about technology gone awry lol. “off you go, know that you can, because i learned this trick from the tommyknocker man” that book took me a long time to read, for me it was just a hard read, so much going on it it.

    • king`s Shinning and Salem`s lot are classic horror. The original Sonja Blue novels, by Nancy A. Collins are good as well, but her later stuff is garbage. I am Legend is a good read, though the movie completely missed the point. I just finished reading the Novels that the series “Dexter” was based on, they are a fast but enjoyable read, and then there is always the father of horror H.P. lovecraft.

  10. Pet Semetary? Meh. Not one of my top picks for King stories. But It was one of my favorites and yes, the m/s sucked. I really do cringe at trying to stuff that much into a 2hr flick, though. That’s where so many of King’s stories lose it in translation to film. So much of the story is in the characters heads. Guess I’ll just cross my fingers and hope.

  11. Last I heard, they were working on the It script from the perspective of Beverly being the main character as opposed to Bill, like in the movie. Which is sort of strange but it can work I guess.

    R rating will help considerably.

    But the movie needs to be a good 2.5 hours instead of 2. Honestly. And I wouldn’t mind sitting through it that long.

    • that wont work, if its gonna be lame that way i wont bother seeing it. the basis of the whole book was bills tragedy of losing his younger brother, and his thirst for revenge. whats next they gonna cast a female henry bowers??

  12. I don’t think they’re headed in a “torture porn” direction. It doesn’t sound like they’re adding violence just for the sake of adding more violence. He’s saying that the R rating allows them to take moments from the book that you could never put on TV.

    This didn’t make me think of the book’s bloodier moments, because I agree- the core concept is so inherently creepy that you don’t need gore to make it scary. What it DID make me think of is ways that Pennywise torments the children that no TV network would ever allow you to show.

    The book is messed up and disturbing in a lot of ways that have nothing to do with gore.

    I also wish they’d split this up into two films as the story is already perfectly structured that way (it’s exactly what the miniseries did). If it has to be one movie, a three hour length would be more suitable but realistically no one in Hollywood’s going to go for that. It’s not “The Shawshank Redemption”. At a surface level all they see is a horror film about a killer clown. We’ll be lucky if it winds up even being two hours as the tendency with horror movies it to make them 90 minutes or less.

    As for recommendations on scary books, my favorite King novel has always been “The Shining”. I also really like “The Mist” novella included in the “Skeleton Crew” anthology.

    • Do you think it’s possible that they’ll make the theatrical release of the IT remake around ninety minutes or two hours long, then have a longer and more faithful three-hour extended edition for the DVD/Blu-ray? Something along the lines of the Lord of the Rings EEs, but not quite on that scale.

      • anything less that a two part theater release would NOT do the book justice

  13. The reading of the novel ‘IT’ was an awesome event in my introspective history. Read in the second year of Grammar School (‘High School’ for all the Americans amongst you) it truly terrified and captivated me. What was most impacting was the Lovecraftian dimension to the antagonist Pennywise; something that the mind could only understand by forcing it into the image of a clown. The consuming hungry insanity of the Deadlights. Awesome.

    I am enthused by this report, although I still have reservations. Even Peter Jackson, though The Lord of the Rings movies were outstanding and I watch them quite often, failed to realise many of the mightiest aspects of novel for me, particularly to do with Gandalf…but I digress.

    I’m looking forward to a proper movie of ‘IT’. This sounds like it could be on the money. Let’s wait and see…

    • i still have the original hardcover i bought when i was in high school back in 87

  14. “It”, is the reason I have a slight Phobia of Tim Curry. (the creepy looking one at least)…


    Bah humbug to these remakes, !!

    • between Pennywise, and the butler from clue, and of course rocky horror, those are my favorite performances by curry

  15. 790, a r rated theater release of It is a must, the miniseries sucked so bad, only thing that was worth it for me was Curry.

  16. Well I can’t break my anti-remake rule over this.

    How many original great films never get made?! Ah the thought of it. The horror….

    • LOL, i do like how u stick to your guns man, but this is ONE ive been craving since that failed miniseries lol, but im not locked yet i have to hear more about it

  17. The finale with the creature was weak visually but the rest of mini series was very creepy and had a great cast.

    What was your beef with it Anthony?

  18. What I would like to know is if they are going to do some of the Dark Tower Tie in’s with IT. If any of you are Dark Tower Junkies like myself you will know what I am talking about if you have read IT. That book has some strange parts in it that you don’t really understand until you read the Tower series.

    As far as all of you guys talking about Pennywise. You are totally right saying that he was a lot scarier in the book. But what I would like to see is them to get Tim Curry to play him again. Before you scream off with his head, hear me out. One thing about that book that they totally left out of the series was the history of Pennywise. They briefly discuss it in the movie but in the book you really get a good sense of who he is and how old he is. Plus it is a HUGE part of the book. The Bradley Gang, the Iron Works, he just keeps popping up. The reason I would like to see Tim play him again is as follows:
    1. He is an awesome actor and has the ability to go way darker than he did in the original.
    2. Through the book, one of the things they stressed is that the clown changed forms but initially was the same clown through out the times he shows up. That in itself is enough to want him to reprise that role.

    But you know, wish in one hand, poop in the other. I just think it would really add a lot to the movie and I just have a problem with them changing actors on a Icon character. Kind of like new Freddy vs old Freddy.

    • hey bob, there are several King books that tie into the series, not just It

      • Oh I know, I have read about 90% of his books and am a big fan of the Tower. Those books are the biggest reason I started reading all the other books. The reason I am hoping they start putting those tie in’s is for when they start the Tower Series. It will be interesting to see how all that works.

        • If they ever do adapt The Dark Tower into a film series, I think they should get Jamey Sheridan (Randall Flagg in The Stand miniseries) and James Cromwell (Father Callahan in the ‘Salem’s Lot miniseries) to reprise their respective roles. It sure would be cool to see all the adaptations converging, Avengers-style…

          • I would almost rather see it as a HBO Series. Those books are strange. They need more breathing room than a series of straight to DVD movies.

            • I totally agree with this. An HBO series would really allow for the the character development, atmosphere and history detailed in the book.

  19. So long as they don’t film the 11-year old orgy scene, I think I’m in.

  20. Hah exactly. I was surprised everyone who has read the book hadn’t mentioned the ‘orgy’ scene in relation to the IT remake. Although it was closer to the ending.

    Out of any ST remake, Tommyknockers would be first on my list.

    • As long as they don’t film the incest scene.



  22. I was reading through the comments with my jaw dropped just because it took until the last three comments before anyone brought up the gang bang. Someone mentioned they got a “torture porn” vibe from the article but I immediately went to, “oh god is he trying to work -that- in?”

  23. I dont think they will put that orgy scene in the movie because come on there supposed to be kids and im pretty sure the studio wont allow that.

  24. Necro post!

    Yeah, the whole ending to IT was awful. I remember reading that book in high school when it first came out and literally being terrified throughout the entire novel… until the ending. Then I just got angry. It made me believe the rumors of SK having a drug habit.

    I don’t know if this is still going to be made or not, but there’s just no way you could do that novel justice with one movie.

  25. i cant wait or the IT movie. Novel was awesome.

  26. Over the past year I have personally been keeping an eye on the ‘IT’ remake, ‘IT’ was the first Stephen King Book I have ever read, it was a fantastic and harrowing experience (mainly because of it’s size). I also grew up with the original Tim Curry film, I enjoyed adamantly as a kid, but it became underwhelming with age, but still holds up. My main concern is who they are going to cast as Pennywise, they say that Tim Curry would be to old, even though he expressed great enthusiasm in playing the role again, I heard that actors like Gary Busey, Gary Oldman, Javier Bardem, Michael Shannon, Jackie Earl Haley, Alan Rickman, Sid Haig, Peter Stormare, John Leguizamo and Willem Defoe would be worthy successors, and while they have all have had very scary performances in the past, I feel that Gary Oldman, Sid Haig and Peter Stormare may be the only ones that can fill in Pennywise’s clown shoes.

    • I absolutely know what you mean. Alan Rickman would be something, but I just can’t imagine him without his British accent. I bet he’d be scary though, especially in the dark. Jackie Earl Haley would nail it for sure! I’ve seen interviews with him on YouTube promoting Watchman, and he seems like one of the nicest guys in the world! That’s why I think he’d be great! I know it would differ greatly from the Pennywise we grew up with, but in the book Pennywise’s voice is actually soft, funny and inviting, all for the sake of gaining children’s trust and luring them away from safety. Jackie Earl’s real voice greatly resembles that. Haley could go from super nice guy who’d help you with your groceries to a satanic, sadistic, malevolent flesh-eating clown who wants to “salt the meat” of your flesh with your own fear.I don’t think Sid Haig would make a very memorable Pennywise,though. He’d remind me too much of Capt. Spaulding. I could be wrong. He might be able to do it under the right direction. William Defoe on the other hand would definitely be frightening! He was one of the first names that came to mind when I found out about this. He has such an evil voice. And Gary Oldman is a master at villainy as well, and we never know what to expect from him. All in all, I hope that they cast someone alittle unknown so that we wouldn’t know what to expect, like Aiden Gillain.
      I sure hope we get some fresh news on these two movies, especially It (I thought the first Pet Sematary was scary as hell, with Zelda and all (“You’ll Never get outta bed again!!!”). I haven’t heard anything on the It remake in like nearly two years!! Still excited for it, though!

  27. NOOOOO!! Don’t remake “IT”. Tim Curry is Pennywise.. No one else can play it like he could. Leave the movie the way he was..

  28. I am not sure how I feel about remakes. They always sound promising, but then they always turn into huge dissapointments. I loved IT and Pet Semetary. They are old, yes, but for some reason I think older horror movies are much scarier.

    My biggest fear is that they are going to use too many special effects or CGI or whatever they use and make IT so animated that it won’t be scary. When will the movie industry learn that sometimes, simplicity is better?
    Also, if they remake IT, they should make it a 2 part movie. That book was long and amazing and I would ahte to see them massacre it by chopping out all the good parts.

    I am completely against a Pet Semetary remake. I actually just finished watching that movie and I just can’t see a good remake comming out it. You can’t replace the actor who played Judd, or Gage. The others, yes perhaps, but those two kind of made that movie. That and Zelda. I just do not believe they could make a scary version without those characters. Plus, it’s classic and perfect the way it is. Why remake that movie?

  29. I’ve always thought IT needed to be darker on screen…There was something almost light hearted and playful about Tim Curry’s Pennywise (brilliant though it was) Pennywise is supposed to be evil manifest…the representation of the Devil in Stephen Kings world.