Fans of Stephen King’s classic 1986 novel It were heartbroken to find out that director Cary Fukunaga, the man who directed every episode of the
good first season of HBO’s True Detective, had departed the big screen adaptation of the book being developed over at New Line Cinema earlier this year. The hiring of Fukunaga was seen as a positive sign that New Line was looking at making this a quality adaptation, and not another cheapie cash grab like the remake of Poltergeist or Ouija; this could have signified a return to bigger budget, prestige horror movies—like the kind we had back during the halcyon days of The Exorcist and Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining.
Sadly, Fukunaga departed the project in May with no concrete reason given, though the rumor mill said it had to do with a variety of things, including budget cuts, casting choices, and even the underperformance of the Poltergeist remake (the movie’s marketing centered around an evil, scary clown, similar to the one in King’s novel). Now for the first time since exiting the project, Fukunaga has opened up a bit on just what went down in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Here’s what he had to say:
“It’s never easy; Chase (Palmer) and I had been working on that script for probably three years. There was a lot of our childhood and our experience in it. …Ultimately, we and New Line have to agree on the kind of movie we want to make, and we just wanted to make different movies. It’s like a relationship: you can try to make the other person who you want them to be, but it’s impossible really to change. You just have to work.”
With Fukunaga gone, New Line is allegedly starting from scratch with the project, which they are still committed to making. They are said to be sticking to Fukunaga’s original ideas for this movie in one respect at least: splitting it up into two films. The first would focus on the “past” sections of the novel—where the protagonists are still children—and the “present” portions of the novel featuring those same kids as adults as a second film. How they plan to do two films telling one epic story on a shoestring budget I have no idea, but that still seems to be the plan.
It was made once already as a two part television mini-series way back in 1990—a mini-series that had one truly memorable element: actor Tim Curry as the demonic Pennywise the Clown (a part that was cast with 22-year old actor Will Poulter for this new version, although it’s up in the air if that’s still the plan). The rest was, to some, mostly cheap and forgettable, leading us to believe that the definitive version of King’s novel has yet to be made. It’s unfortunate that Fukunaga—someone who seemed to have true passion for the material—won’t be the one who gets to make it, but we’ll be interested to see who helms the project next.
What do you think about Fukunaga’s departure? Let’s hear it in the comments.