In Hollywood, directors and actors become attached to projects only to eventually drop out of those projects almost as often as studios shift their upcoming movies’ release dates. It happens all the time, and so usually it’s easy for a movie fan to shrug it off and get on with their day. But this one…this one stings. A lot.
It’s being reported that Cary Fukunaga has walked away from the two-movie adaptation of Stephen King‘s massive horror tome It that he’s been working on for multiple years now. The devastating turn of events for those who have been eagerly awaiting what Fukunaga’s take on the horror classic might look like comes after the director reportedly clashed with studio New Line Cinema on numerous occasions.
The It adaptation was originally a Warner Brothers production, but it was moved to New Line Cinema—the smaller sister studio of Warner Bros., both being owned by Time Warner—recently. According to the report New Line has a very strict budget they adhere to for their projects, and Fukunaga refused to compromise on his vision for the adaptation when the studio demanded budget cuts be made, leading to the two parties butting heads. This all reached a boiling point over Memorial Day weekend, prompting Fukunaga to pack his bags and walk away.
One of the budget issues that caused problems is said to be casting. Fukunaga initially wanted to cast Star Wars: Rogue One and The Dark Knight Rises actor Ben Mendelsohn in the role of Pennywise the nightmare-inducing clown famously played by Tim Curry in the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation of It. At the time it sounded like New Line wanted someone much younger—resulting in the decision to cast the very young Will Poulter in the role—but now it’s been revealed that New Line wanted Mendelsohn to take a pay cut for the job as well.
Fukunaga has been developing this adaptation for multiple years now, first reported to be directing back in 2012. In December of 2014 producer Dan Lin said that the first of the two-part megamovie was to be filmed this summer, even stating how excited everyone was, including Stephen King himself. At the time, Lin said:
“Cary likes to develop things for a while, and we’ve been with this for about three or four years, so we’re super excited that he stayed with it. You guys are gonna be really excited.”
So knowing all of that, one has to assume things got pretty heated behind the scenes to force Fukunaga to dump three years of work in the garbage and walk away.
And it gets worse folks. Depending on who you ask, anyway. Now that the floor has collapsed on It, its current status is not good. The movie has been “pushed indefinitely,” and it’s not known if New Line will try to find a new director more willing to bend to their demands before rescheduling. Though the future is unclear, one source said that the current status is “dead.” Some might prefer it that way if it’s not Fukunaga behind the camera. One reason the movie has been shelved for the time being is apparently due to the recently released Poltergeist remake, which hasn’t fared well at the box office and featured a clown in a lot of its marketing, leading New Line to get nervous about their movie.
Most people didn’t seem all that excited for the adaptation until they really saw what Fukunaga brought to the table in season one of HBO’s True Detective. So unless the two sides can work something out or unless someone of equal talent can somehow pull it off with the strict budgetary restrictions, this one might be better left unmade.
The report also says that New Line’s “ultimate wish” is to adapt the book as one long movie instead of two, which, as any fan of the book will tell you, is probably something that should be avoided at all costs. On the other hand, moving It from a two-part movie to an eight-part miniseries on HBO, Starz, or Showtime wouldn’t be the worst idea ever. Just saying.
What do you think should be the next step for It? Should they just leave it alone now, or is there someone else you’d like to see direct?
Oh, and finally, here’s Stephen King’s response to it all:
The remake of IT may be dead–or undead–but we'll always have Tim Curry. He's still floating down in the sewers of Derry.