Cary Fukunaga Explains The Demise Of His Unconventional 'IT' Adaptation

Cary Fukunaga was going to direct a two-film adaptation of Stephen King's novel It, and that was exciting. But, as often happens, there were differences of opinion between Fukunaga and the execs at New Line, and the parties went their separate ways. The It project is still probably going to be made, just with new scripts and new director Andy Muschietti.

Now Fukunaga has opened up about how he wrote the two halves of It to be an "unconventional horror movie," and the new things he brought to the story in order to give his version its own life.

Speaking to Variety, Fukunaga detailed his approach to crafting the project, into which he says he and co-writer Chase Palmer "put our childhood[s]" in order to give it life. He describes an attempt to create a story "with actual characters," but that's not what New Line wanted.

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.

There was a point when I wondered if It being house at New Line rather than Warner Bros. proper might be a good thing, given the smaller studio's interest in genre. In this case, that clearly doesn't seem to have been the case.

But part of their approach was figuring out what to do with Pennywise the clown, who acts as an incarnation of the force that haunts the town of Derry, Maine. Will Poulter had reportedly been cast as Pennywise, a decision which instantly made the project somewhat unique from the previous television version, featuring Tim Curry as the demon.

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.

Ultimately, it sounds like there was a battle over every detail. "Every little thing was being rejected and asked for changes," Fukunaga says. "Our conversations weren't dramatic. It was just quietly acrimonious."

Those scripts have been tossed out as New Line finds a new direction for the adaptation, and that's OK with Fukunaga. "Our biggest fear," he says, "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."