By now, you’ve probably heard that Cary Fukunaga is no longer a part of the big-screen adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel It. During a recent chat with the folks at Variety, Fukunaga explained why he decided to leave the project behind. Judging from his comments, it sounds like the suits at New Line weren’t completely on board with the vision he had for the movie.
I was trying to make an unconventional horror film. It didn’t fit into the algorithm of what they knew they could spend and make money back on based on not offending their standard genre audience. Our budget was perfectly fine. We were always hovering at the $32 million mark, which was their budget. It was the creative that we were really battling. It was two movies. They didn’t care about that. In the first movie, what I was trying to do was an elevated horror film with actual characters. They didn’t want any characters. They wanted archetypes and scares. I wrote the script. 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.
Fukunaga also explained what he had in mind for Pennywise.
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. And all that character work takes time. 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.
At this point, it doesn’t appear that Cary Fukunaga and New Line can work through their differences. What’s more, the studio apparently isn’t at all interested in delivering something unique, terrifying, and satisfying. If this adaptation ever gets off the ground — and right now, I hope it doesn’t — fans probably shouldn’t hold their breath that it will do Stephen King’s story justice.