In terms of horror novelists, Stephen King is arguably the greatest, most prolific and most widely recognised author. His literary works have spanned numerous generations and been adapted into cinematic classics such as Stand By Me, The Shining, Carrie and The Shawshank Redemption – to name only a few.
Among King’s most popular works, his 1986 novel It is one of the author’s most easily recognisable stories, particularly due to its lead antagonist: the terrifying Pennywise the Dancing Clown. As a novel, It frightened a generation of eager readers and later went on to up the ante and fully terrify that same generation when ABC’s 1990 mini-series of the same name hit television screens (starring Tim Curry as Pennywise).
Since that time, plans have been in the works to release a feature length It film. Director Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, True Detective) was originally set to bring the production to life, but ended up leaving last year due to creative differences. For a while it looked as though It wasn’t going to move forward, but in an interview with Collider, producer Roy Lee discussed the film’s new director – Andy Muscietti (Mama) - as well as upcoming production plans:
“It will hopefully be shooting later this year. We just got the California tax credit… Gary Doberman wrote the most recent draft working with Andy Muscetti, so it’s being envisioned as two movies.”
As far back as 2009, Warner Bros had been planning on making two feature length It films. However, it wasn’t until 2012 that the studio secured Cary Fukunaga as director and co-writer of the adapted script. Fukunaga ended up leaving the project in 2015, saying that when it came to working with the studio, “Every little thing was being rejected and asked for changes.” Fukunaga had wanted a more exploratory take on the source material, whereas Roy Lee is careful to assure fans that the film will be more like the novel.
“It is very close to the source material in one way but very different if you look at it as a literary piece of work… We’re taking it and making the movie from the point of view of the kids, and then making another movie from the point of view of the adults, that could potentially then be cut together like the novel. But it’s gonna be a really fun way of making this movie.”
Lee went on to say that the final draft of the script is “very close” to being turned in and that both It films will claim R ratings. That seems more than appropriate when it comes to the story of a shape shifting, evil presence that often takes the form of a sewer dwelling, child murdering clown.
It’s difficult to consider how this project would have ended up if Cary Fukunaga had been allowed to follow his vision. Andy Muscetti is surely a capable replacement, but Warner Bros’ reluctance to let Fukunaga do his thing could very well end up hurting this production. Another Stephen King novel, The Stand, has also had its share of development issues and is currently "in a holding pattern" which begs the question - are Stephen King films a nightmare to adapt?
On the other hand, the film adaptation of King's The Dark Tower is gearing up to start production in 2016 after years of being stuck in early development, while a big screen take on King's novel Revival also appears to be making it ways down the pipeline at a steady pace, too. Fans of It will surely continue to hope the this particular King adaptation will enjoy a similar stroke of good luck soon.
We'll bring you more details on the It adaptation(s) as they become available.