One of the saddest pieces of entertainment news to report this year was the departure of “True Detective: Season One” and “Jane Eyre” director Cary Fukunaga from the upcoming two-film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel “It”.
Fukunaga came onboard the project back in 2012 and penned the scripts with Chase Palmer. Originally starting at Warners, the films moved to New Line which is where the problems began. Fukunaga left the project earlier this year over what appeared to be budgetary concerns and creative differences.
In a lengthy piece for Variety, Fukunaga reveals that budget wasn’t the issue as both sides agreed to make the two films for $32 million. The creative disagreements however were very much a problem. Here’s the filmmaker’s explanation:
“I was trying to make an unconventional horror film. It didn’t fit into the algorithm of what they knew they could spend and make money back on based on not offending their standard genre audience. Our budget was perfectly fine. We were always hovering at the $32 million mark, which was their budget.
It was the creative that we were really battling. It was two movies. They didn’t care about that. In the first movie, what I was trying to do was an elevated horror film with actual characters. They didn’t want any characters. They wanted archetypes and scares. I wrote the script. 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.
The main difference was making Pennywise more than just the clown. After thirty years of villains that could read the emotional minds of characters and scare them, trying to find really sadistic and intelligent ways he scares children, and 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, especially by the second film. But definitely even in the first film, it pays off.
It was being rejected. Every little thing was being rejected and asked for changes. Our conversations weren’t dramatic. It was just quietly acrimonious. We didn’t want to make the same movie. We’d already spent millions on pre-production. I certainly did not want to make a movie where I was being micro-managed all the way through production, so I couldn’t be free to actually make something good for them. I never desire to screw something up. I desire to make something as good as possible.
We invested years and so much anecdotal storytelling in it. Chase and I both put our childhood in that story. So our biggest fear was they were going to take our script and bastardize it. So I’m actually thankful that they are going to rewrite the script. I wouldn’t want them to stealing our childhood memories and using that. I mean, I’m not sure if the fans would have liked what I would had done. I was honoring King’s spirit of it, but I needed to update it. King saw an earlier draft and liked it.”
New Line is currently seeking new writers and directors for the project which sadly will now be forever thought of in the same way that many will always wonder what Edgar Wright’s “Ant-Man” would have been like. One does not envy whomever comes onboard as Fukunaga’s replacement.