Stephen King’s It remake is finally moving forward. Despite several delays and the departure of original director Cary Fukunaga, New Line has officially started production on its two-part adaptation of the sprawling horror novel.
Director Andres Muschietti made the announcement via social media, writing the caption “Day One” alongside a picture of his director’s chair bearing the film’s title art. He also posted another image featuring some red balloons floating on set — a nod to the murderous character of Pennywise the Clown, who will be played by Bill Skarsgard and is known to use balloons to lure children into his lair.
Muschietti’s announcement should come as good news to fans, who have been eagerly awaiting for the long-rumored project to kick off. The movie has had a bumpy road to screen so far. Fukunaga, who first boarded the project in 2012 and co-wrote the script with Chase Palmer, exited the It remake last May. At the time, it was reported that the director and New Line could not see eye-to-eye on the budget.
Fukunaga later clarified that his departure was actually due to creative differences, not budgetary concerns. “They wanted me to make a much more inoffensive, conventional script. But I don’t think you can do proper Stephen King and make it inoffensive,” he told Variety in September.
While Fukunaga may no longer be involved in the project, the studio does plan to keep several elements of his initial version — including its two-movie format. The first movie will reportedly revolve around the characters as children while the second will take the point of view of them as adults. King’s book switches back and forth between both viewpoints, and produce Roy Lee explained the idea is to make both movies cohesive so that they could conceivably be cut together to make one, straightforward adaptation of 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,” he explained. “But it’s gonna be a really fun way of making this movie.”
Both movies will also maintain the planned R-rating, allowing Muschietti to truly explore the gory and more mature aspects of the story — particularly the emotional state of the children as they are forced to confront scary, adult situations.
As for the script, Gary Dauberman was hired to rewrite the version originally penned by Fukunaga and Palmer. It’s unclear how much the two accounts differ, but reports suggest that Dauberman used the original as a foundation to work from.
Whether Dauberman and Muschietti can deliver an adaptation that will be both critically and commercially successful remains to be seen, but the two certainly have their work cut out for them. Many were already highly anticipating Fukunaga’s version, and were disappointed to see him leave the project.
[Update 7/17/16:] Entertainment Weekly has released an early look at at the new Pennywise, above.
It is scheduled to hit theaters on September 18, 2017.