It Screenwriter Discusses Adapting Stephen King And Writing The Nun


Gary Dauberman seems to be the name on everyone’s lips right now, and with good reason. The screenwriter who grew up consuming Stephen King novels near Philadelphia has taken Hollywood by storm with a steady stream of low-profile script work, culminating in the very high profile writing of Conjuring spinoff Annabelle, its sequel Annabelle: Creation, the upcoming adaptation of It, and a further Conjuring spinoff, The Nun. In light of these achievements, the writer recently spoke to Entertainment Weekly about his experience of working on those aforementioned projects.

In conversation, Dauberman revealed that his involvement with James Wan’s Conjuring franchise was borne of script work he’d completed for New Line Cinema.

“I had done some stuff for New Line. I wrote some additional footage for some of their movies and I sold a pitch there. They knew I was a fan of James [Wan]. They had an early cut [of The Conjuring] that they were bringing some people in to see. It was one of the few times in my life where I’m watching a movie and you could feel like you’re watching a new classic. A lot of times when people bring you in for these early cuts you’re going like, ‘What’s the note that I’m going to use that’s going to make me sound smart?’ All I could [say] at the end, when I met James for the first time was, ‘There’s nothing I would suggest, other than please don’t f— it up!’”

After the Dauberman-scripted Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation proved successful, he was brought on to write the new Conjuring spinoff, The Nun, which involved a trip to the very atmospheric Romania.

“It was a fantastic experience. Because of Dracula and all that, you’re like, ‘Well, I would love to go Transylvania, but I didn’t feel I would ever have the chance.’ Lo and behold, James has this idea: ‘Hey, I really think The Nun needs to be set in Romania.’ You’re like, ‘F—, alright!’ And you go there, and you realize, Oh, this is why he wants to set it in Romania. The production value, with the castles, and the mountains — it’s so beautiful and grand. And there’s not many people better to be with in Romania and Transylvania than Corin Hardy, who lives and breathes this stuff. He had endless ideas. It was another great working experience, within the Conjuring universe.

“When James and I sat down, and we talked story, we wanted [it] to be a little bit more of a mission-based movie,” he says. “We wanted to give a little bit of an action-adventure flavor to it, rather than just someone moving into a house and something creepy happens.” Also? “We wanted something very atmospheric, very moody — and setting it in Romania certainly accomplishes that.”

Dauberman’s comments here suggest that, when The Nun arrives, it’ll be something of a breath of fresh air for this popular horror franchise – evolving the current, successful template into a new, more vital horror movie experience. Since we already know that the film will be an origin story by nature, this makes the spinoff a highly intriguing prospect. But, before we get to see The Nun, we’ll first be subjected to the scares of It – directed by Andy Muschietti, from a Gary Dauberman script, and released on September 8th.

“They knew how much of a fan I am of Stephen King. I always knew they were doing It, and I always kept tabs on the project just as a fan, so when the opportunity came up to work on it, they reached out to me. We talked about ideas, I sat in a room with Andy Muschietti (who replaced Fukanaga on the project), and we seemed to be on the same page with ideas, and the direction it needs to go, so it was another kind of easy fit, where we were just off and running. I don’t know too much about what happened before I came into it, but I did work off a script that was there, that Chase Palmer and Cary Fukunaga wrote. Obviously, they used the book as their foundation for the script. So, it was not like, ‘Let’s throw that out and start over.’ It was like, ‘Okay, let’s pick up the ball and try to run it into the end zone.’”

It seems, from early responses to preview screenings, that Gary Dauberman might be about to have his biggest success yet with this new adaptation of It – which is no mean feat, given the legendary nature of the tale and the expectations of a dedicated King fandom. We’ll have to wait until July 13th, 2018 though to find out whether this will be either matched or surpassed by The Nun.