The kids find out Derry's chequered history in pretty much the same way across all the drafts - Ben is a history buff who noticed the original settlers were slowly killed and problems then occur every 27 years. However, it wasn't always through old drawings we would have experienced this.
The 2014 draft has two previous events detailed: we see the KKK destroying a black speakeasy under IT's leadership, something that ties further into the greater focus on Mike; and in a saloon, a lumberjack calmly hacks up a ground of card players while everyone else sits nonplussed as Pennywise plays on the piano.
The 2015 version, however, is the one of real interest. It takes us back to colonial times when Derry was first settled as a proto-Pennywise - it's yet to gain the full clown form - attacks a young girl. Her mother tries to save her but is easily pacified and given a choice: stay and have her entire family killed or leave and just sacrifice her daughter. She chooses the latter, symbolically starting Derry's constant ignorance of the monster that owns their town. This was actually kept in the 2016 rewrite, albeit toned down, and seemed to feature a more Tim Curry-esque sprite.
It's an origin of the Pennywise figure and IT's relationship with the town; not only a more detailed backstory than in the finished film, but one that thematically links into the cross-generation horror inherent in the story. And it could have been even more; in the 2015 draft we weren't going to see Georgie actually sucked into the sewer and several other events involving Pennywise - Eddie seeing the Leper - occurred offscreen. It was a very different presentation of the clown, one that was more about mounting terror than jump-crafted sequences.
The Real IT and the Ending
As well as going into Pennywise's previous crimes, Fukunaga was also going to explore some of the true nature of IT in the finale. In Muschietti's version, the only real hint of the villain's inter-dimensional origin comes when Pennywise tries to capture Beverly, opening his face into a mysterious portal. In the 2014 version, when the gang head into the sewers, they would first come against a horde of spiders - a reference to IT's base form in the novel - and then find an upside down waterfall into a pool containing a giant starfish - how Fukunaga imagined the monster. The kids battle the tentacled being, then Will has a showdown with IT as Georgie and Pennywise akin to the finished film that's resolved in a more immediately personal manner.
Related: IT 2017’s Ending Explained
By the 2015 redo, things were much closer to the final movie, which is a mixture of King's book, the 1990 film and Fukunaga's vision. And all endings have the gang ultimately vowing to return and parting ways Stand By Me-style, although how the fact they will indeed be called on again is conveyed varies. Early versions had a balloon float up the camera and pop, signaling IT's survival, whereas the released film ends on a more emotional note, with the only hints of more to come being the "Chapter One" title card and Pennywise's laughter at the end of the credits.
The debate of whether Fukunaga's IT would have been better than what we've got will never be resolved and, even with two drafts of his script available, it's hard to come down strong either way. There's a lot of good ideas in there but at the same time it's perhaps needlessly more intense and Muschietti managed to hit comparable notes without having to sidestep the book; the rapport between the characters and their emotional arcs - indeed, the ultimate focus on this being a scary drama than all-out horror - are still there, just in a more era-evocative way.
For King fans definitely, the 2017 release is likely to hew closer to what they'd want given the bold changes Fukunaga was going to make. As for everyone else, we avoided the starfish. Which is probably for the best.
- IT (2017) release date: Sep 08, 2017