Stephen King Wasn't Brought In To Consult On IT - Here's Why

With $700 million in worldwide receipts, "It," directed by Argentine filmmaker Andy Muschietti, is the highest-grossing horror movie of all time. The coming-of-age supernatural horror film tells the story of the Losers' Club, a group of seven outcast children living in Derry, Maine, who are terrorized by a killer clown that emerges from the sewer. The film, which is based on the novel of the same name by acclaimed horror icon and author Stephen King, was a massive success at the global box office, despite often drifting away from its source material. One would assume that King consulted on the film since his book was the inspiration behind it. It turns out that Muschietti wanted to bring his vision of Pennywise and the Losers' Club to new audiences and decided not to ask King for his assistance.

Andy Muschietti didn't seek Stephen King's approval

Stephen King's "It" has been previously adapted into a 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry as the ancient, trans-dimensional evil entity that preys upon the children of Derry, Maine. Muschietti's movie is the first film adaptation of the novel, and he was the second director to work on the project, following the departure of screenwriter David Kajganich and Cary Fukunaga, who were both associated with the film during its production stage.

Muschietti, a self-proclaimed Stephen King fan, attempted to reach out to the author while still working on the film but was unsuccessful. He later shared in an interview that he was proud of his interpretation of the novel and didn't deem it necessary to discuss his ideas with King, describing the possibility of sharing it as "embarrassing":

"I'm very happy making an adaptation, my interpretation of the story, and I would be thrilled to meet Stephen King, but there comes a time in the process where you start feeling good with your interpretation of it, and your contribution to the story, and it doesn't feel like I want to discuss my ideas with him, you know? I don't know. It feels like something that I would be embarrassed to tell him, you know? 'Your words and your moments don't work,' right? [laughs]."

Following the film's success, Muschietti directed a sequel film that covered the second half of King's novel — and Stephen King appeared in it for a special cameo, too.

However, it should be noted that King has a long history of being hands-off with adaptations of his work, either big or small. The author famously allows young and inexperienced filmmakers to buy the rights to to his work for a single dollar and to adapt it as they see fit, provided the finished product is made for personal or festival viewing, not commercial release. These "Dollar Babies," as they're called, number in the dozens, and represent the writer using his influence to give back to the larger artistic community. Filmmakers can make a Stephen King movie without breaking their savings account — all with the blessing of King himself, who doesn't interfere after the deal is made. 

Here's what Stephen King has to say

Muschietti didn't require Stephen King's stamp of approval — but the legendary author loved the film anyway. King shared that he wasn't involved in the making of the film at all — and alluded that he would've loved some "It" merchandise from the studio. Nevertheless, he approves of the adaptation anyway:

"I wasn't involved at all. I wished them well," King revealed to Variety before admitting: "Geez, I don't even think they sent me any swag from that one! But maybe that's a good thing. I've seen it, it's fabulous."

Maybe King's lack of involvement was a good idea since the writer had great things to say about the much-derided "The Dark Tower" adaptation (based on "The Dark Tower" series of novels by King) during its promotional phase. That film opened to scathing reviews and was a box office bomb. For years, King had been longing for a film adaptation of "The Dark Tower," which tells the tale of a dystopian battle between good vs. evil. "It" was spearheaded by Muschietti entirely, who brought his take on Derry, Maine, to the silver screen.

Despite frequently deviating from its source material, "It" is a mostly faithful, modern interpretation of the novel that eliminates some of its more controversial elements, and still surprises Stephen King fans as an effective and fun adaptation. As a fan of the book myself, I'd confirm that Muschietti's adaptation is a sort of love letter to the original novel and captures the heart of the story in a way the miniseries was unable to. Sometimes, having a little distance from the original creator is why you need to make an adaptation sing.