Will There Ever Be An It Chapter Three?

The first thing that must be acknowledged about Stephen King's 1986 novel "It" is that it is over 1,100 pages long. The novel — about a group of seven friends who are stalked by a demonic, shape-shifting clown that lives in the sewers under their small Maine hometown — spans two time periods: Half of the book takes place in the 1950s when the protagonists were hovering around age 12, and half takes place in the present day, when the protagonists had grown into unhappy adults, still haunted by memories of their childhood nemesis. The book alternates between these two time frames, showing how facing a demon — and your deepest fears — as a child, can lead to trauma and dysfunction as an adult. Ultimately the clown must be confronted again in the 1980s. 

The mythology of "It" is complex and baffling. Although it's not covered in the movies and the TV miniseries adaptations, the novel explains that the evil shapeshifting clown Pennywise is, in fact, an ancient, eldritch spider demon from another dimension that "surrounds" known space. Pennywise came to Earth centuries ago, and has been regularly stalking the humans of Derry, Maine, ever since. Every 27 years, Pennywise awakens from its hibernation cycle to feed on human meat. It learned long ago that human being are tastier when in a state of abject fear, and, as such, learned to read people's thoughts and take the form of whatever they feared most. In order to look right at the monster's true form, one must engage in the Ritual of Chüd. 

Also not mentioned much in the movies or the miniseries is that Pennywise has an arch-nemesis in the form of a giant galactic turtle named Maturin, the same one from many of Earth's ancient creation myths. This turtle vomited up the universe when it had a stomach ache. Pennywise the clown Cthulhu hates the Ancient Giant Space Turtle God. 

Now that we're all on the same page, let's take a look at the TV and film adaptations. 

The It movies

In 1990, Tommy Lee Wallace wrote and directed a miniseries adaptation of "It," breaking it into two movie-length chapters, with one set in the '50s with a child cast, and one set in the present day. The clown was played by Tim Curry, and left a nightmarish residue in the minds of all the children who saw him. In an attempt to match the length and density of the novel, the miniseries runs about 192 minutes.

Fast-forward to 2017, and director Andy Muschietti — working from a screenplay by Chase Palmer, Gary Fukunaga, and Gary Dauberman — adapted "It" again, this time as a pair of feature films. Bifurcated like the miniseries, the first "It" from took place in the past with the protagonists as children, only now time-shifted forward to the late 1980s. "It Chapter Two," written by just Dauberman, was released in 2019, and took place in the present day with a new cast of adults. Not to be outdone, however, "It Chapter Two" also included extended flashbacks with the same young actors from the first chapter. In toto, the two "It" feature films added up to 304 minutes. 

While the story concluded at the end of "It Chapter Two," and the Clown Demon (played by Bill Skarsgård) was once again bested by the bravery and resourcefulness of the characters, there was still a lot left unexplored. The turtle god wasn't addressed, for one. Secondly, the kids from the 2017 film did a lot of their own research into the past of Pennywise, finding scary old photos and film reels wherein Pennywise first took the form of a clown. This implied a much broader backstory for Pennywise, likely rife with terrifying episodes of people being tormented and eaten over the course of Derry's dark history.

The "It" feature films had many fans, and some wondered if the unaddressed history of Pennywise would grace the big screen again. In an interview with Gizmodo, director Andy Muschietti put the kibosh on such rumors, pretty much stating categorically that it would not happen. 

It Chapter Three

Muschietti was diplomatic, and gently refused to confirm or deny anything: 

"Mythology is something that always has opportunities to explore. It has been on Earth for millions of years. He's been in contact with humans for hundreds of years, every 27 years. So you can imagine the amount of material ... It's always exciting to think of eventually exploring this mythology. It's very exciting."

So does that mean ...? 

"But, for now, there's nothing on the table."

If there were to be an "It Chapter Three," it would need to invent a story out of whole cloth. The story of King's novel had been pretty much wholly traversed, and the addition of a third chapter 27 years after the events of the 2019 film would undo a lot of the power the characters gained, and make several notable sacrifices meaningless. 

The people at HBO Max seemed to have intuited that a sequel would be a bad idea, and, as such, may be working on an "It" prequel series. As reported on Variety in April of 2022, a miniseries called "Welcome to Derry" is currently in development, set to take place in the same timeline as the Muschietti films. "Welcome to Derry" will take place in the 1960s, 27 years prior to "It," and according to Variety, will focus on Pennywise's origin.

Apologies to fans of evil changeling spider-shaped fear deities from beyond space, but it looks like Pennywise has put away his balloons for the time being.