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A proper adaptation of Stephen King’s eponymous It always was going to present challenges. The author’s story – about a select group of Maine friends tasked with confronting an ancient evil – spans decades, focusing on two distinct time periods that would require two versions of the key characters (one child, and one adult). But comments made by the new director of It suggest that the approach to the story may differ from King’s novel, in this distinct way.
Stephen King’s It tells the story of a centuries-old monster who preys on the fictional town of Derry, Maine. In the novel, childhood friends must defeat the monster once, then reunite years later when the monster resurfaces. The narrative weaves back and forth between the 1950s (when the characters were children) and the present day. Andy Muschietti (Mama), who’ll attempt to adapt King’s story to the screen, suggests in a Variety interview that they will limit the story of the children to the first movie in a two-part endeavor, meaning we’d catch up with the older versions of the characters in the second movie. He tells the trade:
King described 50s’ terror iconography. And I feel there’s a whole world now to rediscover, to update. There won’t be mummies, werewolves. [The] terrors are going to be a lot more surprising.
But it’s in the phrasing where Andy Muschietti tells Variety that the child actors have the main focus in the first part that has us believing he has chosen to divide Stephen King’s narrative in a more linear fashion.
Could that work? Sure. The way that King is able to weave his narrative – and string his reader along from chapter to chapter – works much better on the page, as the author tackles a lot of history for the characters, the town of Derry, AND the monster that has plagued it for eons. The ABC miniseries, told over two nights in 1990, tried to mirror King’s approach, bouncing back and forth between the 1960s and the 1980s. It didn’t become the definitive adaptation of this classic story, and so Hollywood will try again.
I’m a little bit confused by this news, though. Director Cary Fukunaga recently left the adaptation of It because he said budget concerns would have prevented him from telling the story over the course of two movies, and he believed that the studio was going to try and streamline the plot into one – potentially long – film. And yet, Variety’s report clearly makes it known that there will be two parts to this new adaptation. If they choose to divide the story into two clear parts, with the kids in the first movie, do you think that would be the better way to tell It? Let us know your thoughts.