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In the months leading up to the release of It, movie fans were rightfully skeptical of the long-gestating Stephen King adaptation. After all, this was the production that original director Cary Fukunaga departed after four years of development. This was the movie he left behind after citing creative interference from the studio. That was a bad sign. A sign that we were getting something cheap and watered down.

So the revelation that It is very good and very scary and very true to the voices of both King and new director Andy Muschietti was a welcome surprise (especially in the wake of the disastrous The Dark Tower). But with It shattering box office records, we can’t help but wonder what Fukunaga’s version would have been like and how it would have differed from the movie playing in theaters right now. A video series, produced over the past few months and recently completed, offers an interesting dissection of the film’s earliest drafts, which promise a movie that is simultaneously very similar and completely different than what we got.

A few years ago, Fukunaga was riding high on the success of the occult-tinged True Detective season 1 and the bleak and powerful Beasts of No Nation. The thought of him turning his unforgiving eye on one of Stephen King’s most terrifying (and lengthy) novels was a dream come true. And then he left the project shortly before production was set to begin, blaming the studio for apparently demanding a less personal and more boilerplate movie.

The first entry in this video series, created by LowRes Wünderbred, is a nice recap of those events, should you need a reminder. Remember when Ben Mendelsohn was sought for Pennywise? Weird times.

The stuff that you’ll really want to learn about comes in the next two videos, which break down the 2014 and 2015 drafts of It, written by Fukunaga and Chase Palmer. While Jacob Knight over at Birth Movies Death was a big fan of the 2014 draft and, writing about it earlier this year, pondered if we had lost a great American horror movie, this video is a bit more unforgiving. Having not read the script myself, I’m fascinated to hear such wildly different responses. If anything, this polarizing reaction paints a picture of what could have been going on behind-the-scenes of this movie.

Interestingly, the 2015 draft, which eliminates a main character and radically alters massive portions of the source text, earns high marks in the third video. This draft combines Richie Tozier and Stanley Uris into one character and that’s the least of the departures it makes from King’s tome. The obvious comparison is The Shining, a horror masterpiece that has almost no regard for its source material. If this was the version that got made, I imagine King fans would be having heated conversations in comments sections about the various departures.

One thing is clear, though: Cary Fukunaga was not planning to make Stephen King’s It – he was planning to make Cary Fukunaga’s It. And it could have been great. It could have been something really special. And to be perfectly honest, it probably wouldn’t have opened to $123 million at the box office. I love Andy Muschietti’s take on the material, but there’s no denying that it’s a crowd pleasing, mainstream horror movie, albeit one that actually takes the time to slow down and let us get to know and love its characters before it torments them.

That makes the final video in the series, released just days before It hit theaters, feel a little unfair. This final chapter is unkind to the revisions made by screenwriter Gary Dauberman, who reworked Fukunaga and Palmer’s script. Considering that Dauberman had a big hand in making the final movie as good as it is (he’s currently penning the sequel), this is probably the one video in this series you can pass over unless you want all of the nitty-gritty details.

While I’m very happy with It (and the /Film staff is enamored with it so much that we’ve already fan-cast the sequel), I’ll still always wonder what Fukunaga would have done with his version. Some of the scenes described in the videos above are evocative and terrifying and exist entirely outside the realm of King’s work. A scene set in colonial New England, where a mother allows It (appearing in an early, unperfected version of its human form) to devour her daughter in exchange for her safety is a macabre echo of the modern citizens of Derry, Maine, who turn a blind eye as their children turn up missing. Since the sequel will reportedly feature flashbacks throughout Derry’s history, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this scene make a comeback in the next movie.

Interestingly, both Fukunaga drafts maintain the more cosmic elements of the novel, even revealing It’s true form and origin. However, we already know that Muschietti is planning to get pretty wild with the sequel. Perhaps we’ll see these scenes, and more of Fukunaga and Palmer’s other concepts, leak into Chapter Two.

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