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Cary Fukunaga out as ‘It’ director, and that’s a shame

The 'True Detective' showrunner has decided to float on by the two-film project that was his baby for years.


Aja Romano

Internet Culture

Posted on May 26, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 6:11 pm CDT

It looks like Cary Fukunaga will no longer be resurrecting our childhood nightmares.

The True Detective director has walked away from his long-coveted remake of Stephen King‘s It, after reported disputes over budget with New Line. 

The studio has now shelved the film indefinitely, according to the Wrap, which speculated that New Line wanted to condense Fukunaga’s two-part epic down to a single film.

Apparently New Line balked after seeing the dismal reception to this weekend’s Poltergeist revival, which is a terrible conclusion to draw from a film remake that multiple film reviews have called “unnecessary.”

Fukunaga’s It, on the other hand, was very necessary—at least in the form Fukunaga wanted it. His It was to be a gloriously faithful adaptation of King’s original 1986 novel, the best-selling book of that year. The titular It is a malevolent shapeshifting being whose resting form has become an iconic cultural image: the evil clown Pennywise, who first appears in a sewer grate, uttering the terrifying words, “Down here, we all float.”

Fukunaga’s adaptation intended to break the gargantuan novel’s non-linear structure into two separate films. The first was to have dealt with Its first appearance and defeat, when its cast of characters were still children. The second would have resumed some three decades later when the evil being returned, and the remaining group of survivors journeyed back to the small, sinister town of Derry, Maine, to battle it once and for all.

While other remakes of classic films may be unnecessary, It has only been adapted once, and never for the big screen. The famous 1991 miniseries starring Tim Curry as the titular evil did an excellent job of staying true to King’s narrative; but with the added elements of time, advances in special effects, and nostalgia for the original, a proper Hollywood treatment of It could have gone a long way toward revitalizing the horror genre, just as King’s book did when it was first released.

On Twitter, King noted that at least we’ll always have Curry’s iconic performance as Pennywise: 

Prior to Fukunaga’s departure, the film was close to casting actor Will Poulter as Pennywise, and production was slated to begin this summer. Now it looks as if this nightmare fuel is destined to float on down to the sewers of broken horror film dreams.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 4.0)

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*First Published: May 26, 2015, 7:57 pm CDT