IT Director: R Rating Allows Film to Explore 'Very Adult Themes'

It (2017) - Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise

The director of the new IT movie adaptation has now explained the significance of the film's R-rating. In addition to being widely recognized as a master of horror literature, prolific author Stephen King has seen his work adapted for both films and TV shows literally dozens of times. Some - such as The Shining and Pet Sematary - go on to be beloved cinematic takes on King's stories, while others - such as Dreamcatcher and Cell - are generally regarded as adaptations that would have been best left unmade.

There also exists a third category, in which resides King adaptations with some brilliant elements, but also enough flaws to hold them back from the status of all-time classic. Most would likely file 1990's ABC miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's IT under this heading, although there are indeed some who consider it great without any caveats. That said, as amazing as Tim Curry is at playing Pennywise, the miniseries' ability to adapt the IT novel is stymied at nearly every turn by the content restrictions and budget limitations of an early '90s TV production.

Said limitations are one reason why many hardcore fans of King's gargantuan book are so excited by the fact that director Andy Muschetti will soon deliver to the world an R-rated theatrical version of IT that will hopefully be able to succeed in areas that the miniseries failed. During a recent interview with French magazine Mad Movies, Muschetti discussed how the R-rating allowed him and producer Barbara Muschetti - his sister - to make the IT movie that they wanted to make:

“This is an R rated movie. I’m very happy about that, because it allows us to go into very adult themes. Each ‘loser’ knows a situation of despair, on top of the terror of It and the fear of heights. Beverly’s case is of course the worst, because it’s about sexual abuse on a minor. But each kid is neglected one way or the other. Bill is like a ghost in his own home: nobody sees him because his parents can’t get over Georgie’s death. Of course, Ben is bullied at school. We don’t know much about Richie’s personality, because he’s the big mouth of the group. But we suppose he’s also neglected at home, and he’s the clown of the band because he needs attention. Long story short, there’s all sorts of difficult situations, and we had the chance to tell them in a movie that faces directly those conflicts. In particular, the families of the young actors were very open-minded, so we could tell the about subjects that are normally very touchy.”

“From our very first discussion with the people from New Line, it was understood that the movie was gonna be rated R. Of course it was already crazy that they started a story revolving around the death of children. But if you aimed for a PG-13 movie, you had nothing at the end. So we were very lucky that the producers didn’t try to stop us. In fact it’s more our own moral compass that sometimes showed us that some things lead us in places where we didn’t want to go.”

Barbara Muschietti: “To tell everything, you won’t find the scene where a kid has his back broken and is thrown in the toilets. We thought that the visual translation of that scene had something that was really too much. But for the rest, we removed nothing from our original vision, and we didn’t water down the violence of any event. We believe the fans will be thankful to us for keeping that aspect of the novel in the movie. Well, for now, none of the people who saw the screenings left the theater! I got to say we escape a lot of objections thanks to the context of the story, since it’s the kids’ fear that feed the monster.”

As evidenced by the statements from both Muschettis, the R-rating isn't being looked at as simply a greenlight to up the level of gore and violence, although that does sound like it'll be very much present. The R-rating allows them to delve into topics from the book that would have never gotten past the censors in 1990, such as the mentioned sexual aspect to the abusive relationship between Beverly Marsh and her father that is heavily implied in the novel. Whether that particular plot point making it in is good or not is obviously up to the viewer.

All the trailers and marketing so far has gone over pretty well, creating a high anticipation level for the September arrival of Muschetti's IT. It certainly seems like he's got a clear vision for the material, and Warner Bros. has given him the creative freedom to try to be as faithful to the story as possible. Hopefully the final product measures up to his ambitions.

NEXT: IT Concept Art Reveals Change to the Original Prologue

Source: Mad Movies (via Bloody Disgusting)

Key Release Dates
  • IT (2017) release date: Sep 08, 2017
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