In a turn of events as horrifying as anything Stephen King has come up with in the past few years, True Detective helmer Cary Fukunaga has exited New Line’s two-film adaptation of the horror author’s tome IT, leading the hotly anticipated project to be placed on indefinite hold.
Production was set to start in just three weeks, with Fukunaga and Chase Palmer having written two scripts for the project. However, New Line had refused to sign off on the screenplays, and there were also reportedly disagreements about budget cuts. The financial side of things was cited by one inside source as the main reason for Fukunaga’s exit.
Whatever happened, this is a huge loss for King fans and cinephiles alike. Fukunaga revealed himself as a visionary throughout True Detective‘s atmospheric first season, and his ambitious plan to shoot two movies, split between the main characters as kids then adults battling the demonic clown Pennywise, had ignited much of the public’s interest in the project. IT was adapted into a 1990 miniseries with Tim Curry in the role of the clown, but Fukunaga’s bid was the closest anyone had gotten to mounting a cinematic take.
Adding to the disappointment surrounding IT‘s apparent shuttering is that We’re the Millers actor Will Poulter had been cast as Pennywise just a few weeks ago. The intriguing choice just added to the sensation that Fukunaga was cooking up something really special over at New Line. Of course, that may be what went wrong – for a brave and bold director to really pursue their passions and make a project like IT their own, creative control is an absolutely necessity, and it’s possible that the studio simply wasn’t comfortable enough to surrender that.
The idea of IT existing as two, adult-targeted films, one starring kids, may have also concerned New Line. The poor box office returns for Poltergeist, which prominently featured a clown in its marketing, could have played a role in the studio decided to play hardball about the budget with Fukunaga as well. It wouldn’t be too surprising if the studio mounted a single pic featuring the protagonists as kids then adults, which would be less of a gamble, but IT isn’t going anywhere at least in the immediate future, and that’s a real shame.