It continues to be a struggle to bring a fresh adaptation of Stephen King’s masterful novel It to the big screen. Which sucks beyond belief, because the presence of director Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre, True Detective) suggested that this new take was on the right track. Only, Fukunaga no longer is attached to the project, and the reason for his departure has us deeply concerned.
The Wrap breaks the news that Cary Fukunaga has departed the It adaptation that has been in the works at New Line for some time. Sources close to the production tell the trade site that the sticking point in the argument between Fukunaga and the studio was the need to spread King’s story over two films. New Line seems to want to keep the story limited to one film, likely because of budgetary concerns, as is stated on The Wrap. Fukunaga fought hard to give his story some necessary breathing room, then walked when it became clear that a two-part It never was going to be a reality.
This should be a major problem for any Stephen King fan anticipating a rich, detail-oriented translation of the author’s fantastic tome. Without dabbling in too many spoilers, King’s book follows a set of characters and close friends as they confront the ultimate evil on two separate occasions – first as children, and later as adults. King weaves the stories together, and spends a lot of time with the characters in each time period, making their interactions integral to the success of the story. A proper adaptation was always going to be a challenge. Trying to reduce It to one movie sounds downright impossible.
Heck, It barely fit in a two-part miniseries that ran on ABC back in November 1990. This show – much like the book – tried to divide up the narrative and spend time with the contemporary, haunted adults as well as the innocent childhood friends. But something about the storytelling felt rushed, as if there’s too much in King’s book to ever properly fit on the screen.
The site now says that It has been delayed indefinitely. We recently reported that Will Poulter had been hired to play Pennywise, the terrifying "It" of the title who mostly appears to residents of the fictional (and horrific) town of Derry in the form of a menacing clown. The Wrap notes that New Line might have tracked the relative soft opening of Poltergeist this weekend and got cold feet about their clown movie. But It is supposed to be so much more than that. If New Line can’t figure that out, then it makes more sense for them to scrap the movie and step away now, rather than delivering a half-hearted attempt of a story too many of us love.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.