When the remake of the mini series IT, which has aged badly and only really stands up due to Tim Curry’s excellent performance as Pennywise, was announced many were skeptical. The book is a Stephen King classic, and even though the mini series doesn’t wear it’s years well, it’s considered a classic by many.
Many of these worries were assuaged, though, when Cary Fukunaga was announced as director. He was responsible for the excellent first season of True Detective, among other things. This coupled with his plans, which involved making IT a two part adaptation, made the project sound all the more promising. So, naturally, when Fukunaga abruptly announced he would no longer be working on the project, fans were disheartened.
Now, after quite a while of silence, Fukunaga has spoken out on why he left the project. Some had speculated that it came down to budget, but apparently the issue was creative control.
When speaking to Variety, he had this to say: “I was trying to make an unconventional horror film. It didn’t fit into the algorithm of what [New Line] knew they could spend and make money back on based on not offending their standard genre audience. 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.”
Another issue was also the portrayal of Pennywise, which would definitely make or break the remake. As I said, the main thing that rescued IT from being mediocre at best was Tim Curry’s performance, which left many people (including myself) with a fear of clowns even years later.
“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, [I was] trying to find really sadistic and intelligent ways he scares children. 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. [But New Line] didn’t want any characters. They wanted archetypes and scares. Every little thing was being rejected. We didn’t want to make the same movie.”
All of that sounds great to me, but Fukunaga went on to say that even though he had gotten approval from King himself, he was still unsure: “I’m not sure if the fans would have liked what I would had done.”
We haven’t had any comments from New Line yet, so we don’t know both sides of the story right now. However, from the sounds of it the film Fukunaga would have made is something I would have watched and probably enjoyed. But if New Line want “inoffensive”, and “archetypes and scares”, then I have a lot less hope for this project.