‘IT’: Is Derry a Real Place?

Anyone who has seen IT knows how significant the town of Derry is. The cursed location from Stephen King‘s novel has fascinating surprises and scares lurking at every corner. Who knows when Pennywise will show up from one of the sewer drains? 

It is a town of countless mysteries.

But is Derry, Maine a real place? 

Posters are shown on the red carpet ahead of the World premiere of "It Chapter Two"
Posters are shown on the red carpet ahead of the World premiere of “It Chapter Two” | ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Derry, Maine is loosely based on the city of Bangor, Maine

Derry is a fictional town. But even though you can’t find it on the map, the area is loosely based on the city of Bangor, Maine. This just so happens to be the location where Stephen King has lived since the late ’70s.

He considers it “home” and doesn’t have plans of moving anytime soon. Born and raised in the Pine Tree State, fans of the author will comment on how most of his stories take place in Maine. Yet surprisingly enough, IT isn’t his only story that features the fictional town of Derry. 

Canada - Ontario - Port Hope
Canada – Ontario – Port Hope | Michael Stuparyk/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Other stories by the master of horror that involve Derry include InsomniaBag of BonesDreamcatcher, and 11/22/63

According to The World of IT, “Stephen King imagined the story set in ‘an American town… and have the whole thing be haunted. I wanted this spirit of that creature, that entity that manifests itself most commonly as Pennywise the clown, to have infected this whole town. Derry is loosely based on the city of Bangor, Maine. Key events in Derry’s history- such as the fire at a club for Black service members and the execution of the Brady gang- were based on real events that took place in Bangor.'” 

‘IT’ and ‘IT: Chapter 2’ were both filmed in Port Hope, Toronto

Port Hope in worst floods to hit the town in memory
Port Hope | Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images

RELATED: ‘IT’: Bill Skarsgård Says Playing Pennywise Was the ‘Loneliest Film Shoot’ He’s Ever Done

But even though the movies take place in Maine, Andy Muschietti decided to direct the film in Port Hope, Toronto. This was mostly due to budget cuts that restricted them from shooting the movie in King’s home state. 

Still, Muschietti said Port Hope was the perfect place to film because it had areas that matched the book’s descriptions. For example, one of the forested regions looked precisely like how King described “The Barrens” in the novel. 

“Port Hope is a town by a stream and close to a forested area similar to The Barrens,” Muschietti revealed. “Bangor is a bigger town than Port Hope is, but Port Hope was that perfect size and setting for the story that we’re telling. I embraced the idea that we are re-creating Derry. And Derry does not have to look exactly like Bangor.” 

The sets throughout ‘IT’ are characters of their own

"IT Chapter Two" European Premiere - VIP Arrivals
Bill Skarsgård, Jessica Chastain and James McAvoy attend the “IT Chapter Two” European Premiere | Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images

According to David Katzenberg, the locations in the film are almost like their very own characters. They are nearly as significant to the plot as Richie Tozier or Beverly Marsh. 

Katzenberg explains in The World of IT, “Most of the sets in this film are characters of their own, which is pretty unique. It’s also awesome for storytelling purposes. Whether it’s the quarry or the Neibolt House or the cistern or the sewers, each of these locations and sets has personalities of their own. It is fun to see our characters interact with them.”