Pennywise Would Have Been Different And Terrifying In Cary Fukunaga's It

Sadly, we will never get to see a Cary Fukunaga-directed adaptation of Stephen King's It. The filmmaker started working on the big screen project all the way back in 2012, but wound up having too many disagreements with the studio and ultimately left the production behind. As a result, we'll now only ever have the director's descriptions of what his version of the story would have been - and from the sound of things, his version of Pennywise The Clown would have been truly terrifying.

It was just last month that Fukunaga opened up about his parting of the ways with It, but it's in a new interview with Variety that the filmmaker has revealed his special approach towards making the central villain scare the souls from viewers. According to the director, New Line wanted "a much more inoffensive, conventional script," and one of the sticking points was the way Fukunaga wanted to do Pennywise. He explained,

The main difference was making Pennywise more than just the clown. After 30 years of villains that could read the emotional minds of characters and scare them, trying to find really sadistic and intelligent ways he scares children, and also the children had real lives prior to being scared.

The director went on to say that all of this character building led to a version of It that was more of a slow burn, and the studio just didn't have the patience for it. He still has all the confidence in the world in his approach, though, as he told the trade, "It’s a slow build, but it’s worth it - especially by the second film, but definitely even in the first film it pays off."

Before he left the project, Cary Fukunaga cast Will Poulter to play the role of Pennywise in his version of It - and while the casting selection was surprising just because of how different Poulter is from It mini-series star Tim Curry, it also suggested a fantastic new approach to the character. It could have been fascinating to see Fukunaga's vision of "really sadistic and intelligent" methods of torture coming from a much younger actor, but sadly the horror genre will have to do without.

While Cary Fukunaga and his co-writer Chase Palmer are no longer involved with the project, It is still a developing project at New Line. As we learned back in July, the studio has filled the director's chair by hiring Mama director Andy Muschietti. There is still a plan in place to make the movie as two separate features, though the film has obviously been pushed off schedule (filming was originally going to start in June). The current status of the project is unknown, and no release date has been announced - but Fukunaga's comments certainly are helping it from a PR perspective.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.