Moving from Charlotte Brontë to Stephen King? Why not?
Well, okay, I personally can think of a few opposing arguments, but for Cary Fukanaga, director of last year’s outstanding Jane Eyre, the transition appears natural.
THR reports that Fukanaga has been hired by Warner Bros. to helm their upcoming two-film adaptation of Stephen King‘s It, the classic 1986 novel that was previously adapted into a 2-part TV movie in 1990. Chase Palmer is writing the screenplay.
The announcement simultaneously excites me and fills me with dread. Fukanaga is a fantastic filmmaker, one adept at crafting memorable visuals, working with actors, and telling meaningful stories. Jane Eyre is probably the best audition a director could have to prove they can successfully adapt dense source material. In theory, I think Fukanaga’s a great choice, and he could do wonders for King’s story.
That being said, I simply detest the idea of splitting It into two movies, and I wonder how well Fukanaga can reasonably be expected to do when stretching out the story across so much time. Yes, I’m well aware It is a large book. So are all of Stephen King’s novels. But the job of the filmmaker is not to pander to the length of the work, but to whittle away at the material until they have crafted something cinematically viable.
Just look at Jane Eyre. That could have easily been two movies, given the scope and density of Brontë’s work, but the strength of the single film is that it had the clarity to reduce the novel to its purest, most crucial elements. In that way, the film felt fresh and insightful without betraying the core of the novel.
I have absolutely nothing against Stephen King, but I doubt It is such a substantially rich tome that it deserves two films where one of the greatest novels in English history didn’t. Brevity is the filmmaker’s friend. A compact, focused, precise one-film version of It would interest me so much more than what is bound to be a wandering, overlong marathon of indulgence. Want evidence? Watch the tedious 1990 ABC miniseries, which is likely just as long as the upcoming film(s) will be.
Nevertheless, I’m still interested to see where this project goes when it finally comes to fruition. Though no casting has been announced, am I the only one who thinks it would be awesome if Fukanaga could somehow convince his Jane Eyre colleague Michael Fassbender to play Pennywise the Clown? And let him use his native Irish accent and everything? I would watch three of those movies, let alone two.