During a recent interview with Variety, Cary Fukanaga talked about his version of Stephen King’s IT that never came to be. Apparently, the studio thought that his version was too offensive:
“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.”
Um. We are talking about the same book – aren’t we? Sounds like the studio really wanted to dumb this thing down:
“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.”
Sigh. The more and more he talks about it – the more disappointing this gets:
“It was being rejected. Every little thing was being rejected and asked for changes. Our conversations weren’t dramatic. It was just quietly acrimonious. 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.”
So, it looks like after figthing for his vision, the director just left the project rather than have the film be destroyed by executives who don’t know what they’re doing.
“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.”
This will just go down as one of those “what if” types of movies. I realize there are a lot of fans of the original film (and people who had the sh*t scared out of them as kids) but I feel that a remake of something like this could actually work and if it didn’t, it’d still be interesting.
Fukunaga’s vision definitely sounds like it would have been something that horror fans would have enjoyed and if Stephen King was behind it – why wasn’t the studio?