In anticipation of Netflix original film Beasts of No Nation, writer-director Cary Fukunaga recently spoke with Variety regarding his stalled adaptation of Stephen King’s It. Back in May, plans were in place for the remake to enter pre-production with the True Detective helmer overseeing the two-part remake; however, said plan began to unravel once Fukunaga exited the embryonic reboot.
New Line quickly drafted in Andres Muschietti to fill the director’s chair left vacant by Fukunaga’s departure, though as the weeks went on, more and more information began to seep out about his failed vision. Wrangling King’s seminal novel into two films, the director intended to devote one installment entirely to the children who happen across the unspeakable evil, while the second would reunite the group of friends to dispel the evil once and for all 25 years after the fact.
A bold vision, no doubt, particularly when you factor in the purported budget of $34 million. Alas, things didn’t pan out as expected, and in an interview with Variety, Fukunaga has explained the reason behind his abrupt exit, with creative control acting as the primary factor that sealed the director’s fate.
“I was trying to make an unconventional horror film,” Fukunaga tells Variety. “It didn’t fit into the algorithm of what [New Line] knew they could spend and make money back on based on not offending their standard genre audience. 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.”
Beyond that, another sticking point for Fukunaga was the nature of Pennywise, the infamous clown that haunted a generation. It’s clear that the director was gunning to create an unusual horror movie with his It remake, and though his approach certainly sounds interesting, Fukunaga admits that he’s “not sure if the fans would have liked what I would had done.”
“The main difference was making Pennywise more than just the clown,” the director continues. “After 30 years of villains that could read the emotional minds of characters and scare them, [I was] trying to find really sadistic and intelligent ways he scares children. 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. [But New Line] didn’t want any characters. They wanted archetypes and scares. Every little thing was being rejected. We didn’t want to make the same movie.”
Andres Muschietti’s rendition of It is quietly toiling away in development. Beasts of No Nation, meanwhile, opens in limited release on October 16.