Why George Romero Refused To Direct Stephen King’s It For ABC

Stephen King

Before Hollywood decided to adapt the property into a number of movies, Stephen King’s It was known mostly as a miniseries from the 1990s. Starring Tim Curry as an admirable and perhaps even scarier version of Pennywise the Dancing Clown, this iteration terrorized the minds of millions of kids who grew up with it.

Much of the fear factor came from Tommy Lee Wallace’s stellar directing. But before the man behind Halloween 3 was awarded the position, George Romero was actually being set up to helm the production of the series. And though he may have passed away some years ago, his influence on the film industry is monumental.

Much of this is due to his most famous creation, Night of the Living Dead, which singlehandedly spawned the zombie genre and thus inspired the AMC hit series The Walking Dead, among many others. However, Romero’s influence goes farther than just this one film. Among his other credentials is an anthology called Creepshow, as well as an adaptation of another King novel, The Dark Half.

A creative spirit who preferred to work outside the boundaries of Hollywood, Romero dropped out of many projects throughout his life. As far as his would-be adaptation of It is concerned, he poured his heart and soul into the production. Working closely with writers and storyboard artists, he wanted to create a version of the story that would do King’s groundwork justice.

ABC – the network commissioning the miniseries – initially allotted Romero ten hours to tell his story. Over the course of the production, however, that length was eventually cut down to eight, and then to six. When executives finally told Romero he had to do it in four, he quit.

Fortunately for the network, Wallace was available to take his place. Unfortunately for the world, though, we’ll never know what Romero’s It would have looked like.