As one of the most popular recent Stephen King movie adaptations, the 2017 big screen version of IT, and IT: Chapter Two in 2019, it is hard to imagine that the movie could have been done much better if it had been made by original director Cary Fukunaga. However, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in the run up to the release of Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond in No Time To Die, it appears that Fukunaga had a much different vision in mind for King's evil clown.
The original plan for IT saw Cary Fukunaga and Chase Palmer spending a number of years scripting out the movie that they wanted to make. Will Poulter had been cast as Pennywise, and the project was only potentially days away from filming when the director jumped ship and that version of the movie fell apart, making way for Andy Muschietti to come in and bring Bill Skarsgard's Pennywise to screens in the version of the move that we were given. So how different would Fukunaga's version have been?
"I was on that for four or five years with Warners and then it got moved to New Line, right before we were about to go into production," Fukunaga told THR. "I think New Line's view of what they wanted and my view of what I wanted were very different. I wanted to do a drama with horror elements, more like The Shining. I think they wanted to do something more [pure horror] like Annabelle [from the Conjuring films]. That was essentially the disconnect."
For fans of Stephen King's original novel, it is possible to see how the text could be interpreted in a number of ways, and going down a psychological route is always a real possibility with King's best works. His stories centre on the human characters and horror they face both externally and internally over the course of the story. Pennywise the Clown and his manifestations are in many ways like the dinosaurs in the original Jurassic Park, their presence is felt more than they are seen, so there could well be a way to constantly have cranked up the suspense similar to how Kubrick developed the standard haunted hotel story of The Shining and made it into an escalating and relentless traumatic event.
As it was, IT's arrival in cinemas in the form we got cannot be called anything other than a triumph. The movie grossed over $700 million off the back of its measly $35 million budget, making it the most successful King movie ever released in North America, the movie with the highest grossing R-rated opening weekend and numerous other records. IT Chapter Two had a higher budget of around $79 million and grossed $473 million two years later, and while it received more mixed reviews and clearly didn't make quite as profitable as its predecessor, the film was certainly no flop. While it would have been interesting to have seen Fukunaga's vision on screen, it is doubtful that the end result would have been any more lucrative or satisfying than what we got instead.
While IT can be seen across multiple streaming platforms, the Fukunaga-directed James Bond blockbuster No Time To Die will be bringing Daniel Craig's swansong to theaters on October 8th in the US, almost two years on from its originally planned release date of November 2019. This news originated at The Hollywood Reporter.