THE LATEST (6/21): Praise Pennywise, the It movie is officially going to be rated R for “violence/horror, bloody images and strong language," Bloody Disgusting writes of the Stephen King remake. In February, producer Dan Lin said, "If you’re going to make a 'rated-R movie', you have to fully embrace what it is, and you have to embrace the source material. It is a scary clown that’s trying to kill kids. So of course that’s going to be a rated-R movie."
And now it's definite. Hopefully Bill Skårsgard, playing the titular shapeshifting evil, won't be too disappointed at the audience restriction. He recently noted his mindset is, "If I succeed at doing what I'm trying to do with this character, I'll traumatize kids."
Read the whole conversation—where Bill confides he remembers, anecdotally, how It was "the scariest thing that existed for a kid"—at Interview.
What's It about? A group of small-town Maine schoolchildren, the Losers' Club, fighting an ancient, shape-shifting evil that terrorizes the town of Derry every 27ish years. They return to Derry as adults for a rematch.
Release date: Sept. 8, 2017
Budget: Rumored in 2015 to be around $30 million
Is it a two-parter? That's the plan—with part one following the kids, part two following their adult selves—although a second part's not yet guaranteed
Release of Stephen King's 1,138-page novel: September 1986
Premiere of ABC three-hour miniseries: Nov. 18-20, 1990
TEASERS, TRAILERS, ETC.
Teaser No. 1:
Trailer No. 1:
Trailer No. 2:
Side-by-side comparisons between the 1990 version and what we've seen of the remake:
BEHIND THE CAMERA
Director: Andrés Muschietti, the Argentine writer/director who debuted with 2013's Mama, which starred Jessica Chastain and Game of Thrones' Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
Check out the Mama trailer to get a taste of Muschietti's talents:
Muschietti is also set to direct an adaptation of the video game Shadow of the Colossus. For It, he replaced Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation).
Screenwriters: Chase Palmer, making his feature debut with It. The first draft came from Cary Fukunaga and Gary Dauberman, who wrote Annabelle and its upcoming sequel, as well as the forthcoming films The Wolves at the Door and Within.
–Barbara Muschietti, who co-wrote Mama and is Andrés' sister
–Seth Grahame-Smith, novelist behind Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (scripted the movie, too) as well as a screenwriter on The Lego Batman Movie and the still-in-limbo Beetlejuice 2
–Roy Lee (Blair Witch, Bates Motel, The Lego Movie, the remakes of The Ring, The Grudge, Oldboy and Poltergeist, plus the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons and Minecraft movies)
–Dan Lin (the Sherlock Holmes movies, Gangster Squad, The Lego Movie, Disney's upcoming Aladdin live-action remake and the new Lethal Weapon TV show)
Cinematographer: Chung-hoon Chung, the South Korean Park Chan-wook go-to with credits including Thirst, the original Oldboy, Stoker, Lady Vengeance and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Check out some of his highlights:
KEY CAST MEMBERS & CHARACTER DETAILS
Bill Skarsgård as It, a.k.a. Pennywise the Clown, made famous by Tim Curry in the miniseries. The Swedish star of Hemlock Grove and The Divergent Series: Allegiant is the son of actor Stellan Skarsgård and brother of Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood) and Gustaf Skarsgård (Vikings). He's 18 years younger than Curry was in the miniseries, and he looks way different:
Skarsgård calls It "such an extreme character," "inhumane" and "beyond even a sociopath." He also notes that "Tim Curry’s performance was truly great, but it’s important for me to do something different because of that."
“Pennywise shows up, he’s front and center, and he does his show. He has an act,” says Andrés Muschietti. “So it’s weird all the time, and every little thing implies a further threat.”
Pennywise em imagem divulgada pela Empire. A nova versão de It tem previsão de estreia para setembro. pic.twitter.com/D2YX64GnIs— Cinemito (@cinemito) March 23, 2017
Como se verá Pennywise el payaso de eso en las coladeras?— Changuito-san (@_elchanguito) March 23, 2017
Gracias a la revista EMPIRE podemos saberlo.
Solo puedo decir:
THEY ALL FLOAT🎈 pic.twitter.com/P7TxklCXru
Jaeden Lieberher as Bill Denbrough, leader of the Losers' Club, struggles with a stutter. His credits include Showtime's Masters of Sex and Cameron Crowe's Aloha. He's also carried movies alongside Bill Murray (St. Vincent) and Clive Owen (The Confirmation).
Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, the only girl in the Losers' Club, romantic foil for Bill Denbrough, and Ben Hanscom's ultimate crush. Lillis did Julie Taymor's A Midsummer Night's Dream movie and the 2016 film 37, about the murder of Kitty Genovese.
Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom, the Losers' Club's overweight heart and soul. Taylor's had minor appearances in 42 and Ant-Man.
Jack Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, the Losers' Club's resident hypochondriac asthmatic. Grazer appeared in 2015's horror-comedy anthology Tales of Halloween.
Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier, the wise-cracking, impressions-obsessed member of the Losers' Club. Wolfhard broke out in summer '16 with his turn as one of Stranger Things' main characters, Mike Wheeler. The series has gotten comparisons to It and Stephen King's work in general.
Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon, the bully Henry Bowers' most-hated Losers' Club's member.
Wyatt Oleff as Stanley Uris. Oleff's shown up in Guardians of the Galaxy and Once Upon a Time.
Nicholas Hamilton as Henry Bowers, the Losers' Club's non-supernatural antagonist. Hamilton's an alum of Strangerland and Captain Fantastic. He's also got a role in the long-awaited adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower.
Jake Sim as Belch Huggins. Previous credits include the TV shows Raising Expectations and Stella and Sam, plus voice work on Arthur.
Owen Teague as Patrick Hockstetter, a member of Henry's gang, previously worked on Netflix's Bloodline and the 2016 movie adaptation of Stephen King's Cell.
September 1986: Stephen King publishes It, clocking in at 1,138 pages.
November 1990: ABC premieres a two-night It miniseries starring Tim Curry, Annette O'Toole, John Ritter, Dennis Christopher, Harry Anderson, Richard Thomas, Tim Reid, Richard Masur and Michael Cole. It's directed by Tommy Lee Wallace (The Twilight Zone, Fright Night Part 2), who co-wrote the script with Lawrence D. Cohen (credits on the original Carrie and the remake, plus the Tommyknockers miniseries).
March 2009: The It remake is announced. In the early stages, it's planned as a single film. Invasion writer David Kajganich starts tackling the script.
June 2012: Cary Fukunaga is announced as the director; he'll co-write a new script with Chase Palmer. At the time, Fukunaga's done Sin Nombre and Jane Eyre. He'll go on to direct Beasts of No Nation and the entire first season of HBO's True Detective.
December 2014: Producer Dan Lin announces that It will arrive in two parts. “The book is so epic that we couldn’t tell it all in one movie and service the characters with enough depth,” Lin tells Vulture, adding that Fukunaga is only contracted to direct the first film, although he's nearing a deal to co-write part two. He says things are going well:
“The most important thing is that Stephen King gave us his blessing. We didn’t want to make this unless he felt it was the right way to go, and when we sent him the script, the response that Cary got back was, ‘Go with God, please! This is the version the studio should make.’ So that was really gratifying.”
May 2015: English 23-year-old Will Poulter (We're the Millers, The Maze Runner, The Revenant) is cast as Pennywise.
Later that month, Fukunaga drops out as director. Stephen King reacts:
The remake of IT may be dead--or undead--but we'll always have Tim Curry. He's still floating down in the sewers of Derry.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) May 25, 2015
July 2015: Argentina's Andrés Muschietti (Mama) is announced as the new director.
September 2015: Fukunaga explains his "quietly acrimonious" exit to Variety, saying "every little thing was being rejected and asked for changes":
“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. ... 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. 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. ... Every little thing was being rejected and asked for changes. ... We didn’t want to make the same movie. We’d already spent millions on pre-production. I certainly did not want to make a movie where I was being micro-managed all the way through production, so I couldn’t be free to actually make something good for them. I never desire to screw something up. I desire to make something as good as possible. We invested years and so much anecdotal storytelling in it. Chase and I both put our childhood in that story. So our biggest fear was they were going to take our script and bastardize it. So I’m actually thankful that they are going to rewrite the script. I wouldn’t want them to stealing our childhood memories and using that. I mean, I’m not sure if the fans would have liked what I would had done. I was honoring King’s spirit of it, but I needed to update it. King saw an earlier draft and liked it.”
October 2015: Muschietti tells Variety of his 1980s-set version: “King described '50s terror iconography. And I feel there’s a whole world now to rediscover, to update. There won’t be [mummies], werewolves. Terrors are going to be a lot more surprising."
January 2016: Muschietti posts a photo from Bangor, Maine:
February 2016: Producer Roy Lee reveals that Fukunaga and Palmer's script has been rewritten and explains that It is now structured as two films—one about the Losers' Club fighting It as kids, the other about them battling It as adults:
“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. But it’s gonna be a really fun way of making this movie.”
June 2016: Bill Skarsgård is announced as Pennywise. Shooting begins.
July 2016: First look at Pennywise, a close-up, unveiled by Entertainment Weekly. (See IMAGERY section, above.) Bill Skarsgård comments:
“It’s such an extreme character. Inhumane. It’s beyond even a sociopath, because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown. I’m playing just one of the beings It creates. ... It truly enjoys the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt. What’s funny to this evil entity might not be funny to everyone else. But he thinks it’s funny.”
He also acknowledges the Tim Curry–shaped elephant in the room:
“It’s important that we do something fresh and original for this one. It’s purposely not going toward that weird, greasy look. ... Tim Curry’s performance was truly great, but it’s important for me to do something different because of that. I’ll never be able to make a Tim Curry performance as good as Tim Curry.”
King reacts simply, telling EW: “It’s a scary clown. But to me they’re all scary.”
Also, Northumberland News shares photos from Port Hope, Ontario, the Derry, Maine stand-in. (See IMAGERY, above.) A cinema marquee advertises Batman and Lethal Weapon 2, meaning we'll be visiting the summer of 1989.
August 2016: Entertainment Weekly publishes the first full-body photo of the new Pennywise. Costume designer Janie Bryant, an Emmy-winner with experience on Mad Men, Deadwood and the 2009 remake of The Last House on the Left, says the costume reflects bygone eras— Elizabethan, Victorian, Renaissance—as a nod to It's ancient, many-faced aspect:
“The costume definitely incorporates all these otherworldly past lives, if you will. He is definitely a clown from a different time. ... There is almost a doll-like quality to the costume. The pants being short, the high waistline of the jacket, and the fit of the costume is a very important element. It gives the character a child-like quality."
Producer Dan Lin gives Collider an update:
“Really great chemistry is always a challenging thing with a movie like It because you’re casting kids who don’t have a ton of experience, but it ended up being really natural. Each kid, like a Goonies or Stand By Me, has a very specific personality and they’re forming the Losers' Club obviously. And now finally the evil force is coming into our movie. We’ve spent a few months getting the kids to bond and now they’re going to fight this evil, scary clown."
He also comments on Skarsgård as Pennywise:
"His build is really interesting. He’s really tall and lanky, and feels a little clown-like in his movement. When he came in—we had a lot of different actors read, and when he came in he had a different spin on the character that got us really excited. You’ve had Heath Ledger doing almost a clown Joker, you’ve seen obviously Tim Curry as a clown. We wanted someone who created a Pennywise character that would stand on its own and Bill came in and created this character that frankly freaked us out."
September 2016: Principal photography on the It remake wraps:
January 2017: Barbara Muschietti shares individual photos of the seven kids playing the Losers’ Club. See KEY CAST MEMBERS & CHARACTER DETAILS.
February 2017: In a chat with Collider, producer Dan Lin (The Lego Movie, Disney's upcoming Aladdin live-action-er) says the It remake will be rated R. He adds that the plan is still for It to be a two-parter, with the second focusing on the Losers' Club fighting Pennywise as adults, although there's no public green light yet.
Here's what Lin said about the R rating:
"If you’re going to make a 'rated-R movie', you have to fully embrace what it is, and you have to embrace the source material. It is a scary clown that’s trying to kill kids. So of course that’s going to be a rated-R movie. The kids are amazing. You very much get a Stand by Me vibe as far as their camaraderie and the way they joke with each other and that they really care for each other. They do have a scary crown that’s taken over the town of Derry, so it’s going to be rated R."
Lin previously told the same site that Bill Skarsgård's portrayal of Pennywise "frankly freaked us out."
March 2017: Stephen King's longtime assistant Marsha DeFilippo takes to the author's official message board, of which she's the administrator, to assuage fans that the new It movie is worth getting excited about:
"Steve asked me to pass along that he saw a screening of IT today and wanted to let everybody know that they should stop worrying about it as the producers have done a wonderful job with the production."
Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard, who plays Richie Tozier in It, posts a screenshot on Instagram, writing, "Creds to the producers. So insanely excited and proud." Producer Barbara Muschietti does the same, writing, "Not a humblebrag. A brag! Mr King, you had us at 'stop worrying.'"
A couple days later, King tweets:
Andy Muschietti's remake of IT (actually it's Part 1--The Losers' Club) succeeds beyond my expectations. Relax. Wait. And enjoy.— Stephen King (@StephenKing) March 7, 2017
Depending on King's level of involvement/up-to-date–ness, seems like this thing might actually be officially titled It: Part 1 – The Losers' Club—which would bode well for the second part getting a green light.
At SXSW, everyday human beings get to see some actual footage of the film, still not due for almost six months. Bloody Disgusting reports that attendees get to see a 90ish-second teaser trailer and one full scene. A few of the stalwart horror site's notes about the teaser:
"We are shown the members of the Loser’s Club meeting each other and realizing that they’ve all been seeing the same entity, before one of them finally says 'The Clown.' ... There is also a sublime image of Pennywise approaching two of the children (he has them cornered against a wall), but the shot is framed in a way so that only his long, bony fingers fill the screen. The children are in the background, out of focus but clearly terrified. ... The teaser ends with Bill walking down into his flooded basement, where Georgie’s ghost taunts him by repeatedly screaming 'We all float down here!' before Pennywise rises from the water and rushes at him, in a moment that had the entire audience screaming."
Bloody Disgusting's Trace Thurman says, "As far as teasers go, it’s one of the best that I’ve ever seen. ... It is one of my favorite novels, and I think that this movie may actually get it right." He adds that the standalone It scene the SXSW crowd gets to see involves a bloodied Ben Hanscom escaping Henry Bowers & Co. in the Barrens, encountering Bill, Richie, Eddie and Stan as they ponder entering the sewer.
Also at SXSW, Andrés Muschietti shoots down a rumor that the still-unconfirmed It: Part 2—which, set decades later, would complete the tale begun in film one—was already in production. “No it’s not that," Muschietti says. "It’s just a complete misinterpretation of the facts. It’s not happening now.” Bloody Disgusting appends this remark with the note that "there are still a lot of rumblings that the plan is to announce the 'adult cast' this spring and shoot the sequel this coming summer."
In an interview with Empire magazine, Muschietti says:
"There’s supposed to be a less-is-more thing in horror. It’s like you’re not really meant to show the monster. But Pennywise is different. With Pennywise, it’s like, ‘This is the monster, I’m showing it to you…and you’re going to shit a brick.’"
The paparazzi catch 14-year-old Stranger Things actor Finn Wolfhard at the airport and got a little info about his experience playing Losers' Club joker Richie Tozier. "It was really intense but it was a lot of fun," he says. "We tried to take a lot from, like, the book. Hopefully people will like it as much." The real whoa moment comes when he describes, sadly without context, being "in this super-closed set in the middle of nowhere, and you're getting spit on and screamed at and blood is pouring on you."
Wolfhard himself is afraid of clowns, too. "I don't get the reason of, like—no disrespect to like clowns out there, but I don't get the appeal," he says.
USA Today speaks to Andrés Muschietti, who says It will have pointed moments “that make you think about what will happen 30 years later when Pennywise comes again." Which we'll see in It: Part 2, if the sequel gets the green light.
In addition to Pennywise's ability to take the form of your darkest fear, Muschietti appreciates that he "doesn’t have a steady behavior, he doesn’t expose how he thinks, and that’s what makes him really unpredictable.” When he's absent, there will manifest a “feeling of dread that grows in people’s minds.”
Muschietti also recalls a moment in Stephen King's novel when the Losers' Club leader Bill Denbrough wonders if It murders children simply because that's traditional textbook monster behavior. “It’s a tiny bit of information, but that sticks with you so much," the director says. "Maybe it is real as long as children believe in it. And in a way, Pennywise’s character is motivated by survival. In order to be alive in the imagination of children, he has to keep killing.”
April 2017: The first trailer arrives (see TRAILERS, TEASERS, ETC. section) and breaks the record for most trailer views in a 24-hour span, scoring 197 million over The Fate of the Furious' 139 mill.
June 2017: Interview magazine has Alexander Skarsgård (True Blood, Big Little Lies) talk to his little brother Bill Skarsgård, a.k.a. our new Pennywise. Bill, 26, talks frankly about the shady goal of this gig: to terrify kids to a legendary, generational extent, like Tim Curry did with the 1990 miniseries. "It's a really weird thing," he tells his brother, "to go, 'If I succeed at doing what I'm trying to do with this character, I'll traumatize kids.'" Skarsgård says that on set he forewent friendly chitchat and goofing around as he "tried to maintain some sort of weirdness about the character, at least when I was in all the makeup." And he made some young extras cry:
"Some of them were really intrigued, but some couldn't look at me, and some were shaking. This one kid started crying. He started to cry and the director yelled, 'Action!' And when they say 'action,' I am completely in character. So some of these kids got terrified and started to cry in the middle of the take, and then I realized, 'Holy shit. What am I doing? What is this? This is horrible.' ... But then we cut, and obviously I was all, 'Hey, I'm sorry. This is pretend.'"
Next, watch actor/filmmaker Rider Strong (Cabin Fever, Boy/Girl Meets World) break down his five favorite horror movies for Fuse: