15 Things You Didn’t Know About 2017’s ‘IT’
The new movie adaptation of Stephen King’s gargantuan 1,000-page tome It has surpassed The Exorcist to become the highest grossing horror movie of all time. It’s made over $500 million worldwide in the last month and it’s not even Halloween yet. It’s a testament to the amazing quality of the movie.
Andy Muschietti directed a visually spectacular film. It’s breathtakingly cinematic and dreadfully terrifying. The cast, including Stranger Things’ Finn Wolfhard, gave tremendous performances. If you couldn’t identify with The Losers Club, the movie wouldn’t have worked. Critics loved the movie, too.
There are a lot of interesting things you don’t know (or probably don’t know) about It. Here are 15 of them.
15. Pennywise isn’t dead
Sure, Pennywise the Dancing Clown was shot in the head and beaten and then he disappeared down a hole in the ground, briefly showing us his true form as the supernatural entity It — but he’s not dead. Not by a long shot.
If you had the patience to stick around until the end of the boring, mind-numbing credits (but it’s not a Marvel movie, so why would you?), then you’d know that right at the end, that weird, creepy kids’ show comes back on and you can hear the evil cackle of Pennywise. He’s not dead — he’s going to return to Derry in a sequel in 2019 to wreak havoc on the kids all over again (except they’ll be full-grown adults this time around).
14. The movie is full of Easter eggs from the 1980s
Being set in the 1980s, the mise en scene of the new It movie is brimming with Easter eggs that reference its time setting — just like its cousin Stranger Things. You have to pay attention to pick up on them.
For example, in the scene where Mike is down an alley with the butcher’s meat order, you can see a marquee on a movie theater in the background that says they’re showing Batman and Lethal Weapon 2, two of 1989’s greatest movies. Eddie wears an Airwolf t-shirt.
There’s a poster in a bedroom scene for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, and one for Gremlins and one for Beetlejuice, a pair of popular ‘80s movies. The kids play arcade games like Street Fighter and Rampage, which is actually getting its own movie soon starring The Rock.
13. The director wanted to make it more faithful
Despite a few minor changes to character names and the forms that It takes, the new movie is seen as being generally a faithful adaptation. But it was almost very different. Director Andy Muschietti came on board at a time when the script was more akin to The Shining and miles away from the tone of the original novel.
Muschietti fought the studio tooth and nail to get scenes from the book put back into the story. The only one he couldn’t quite get in there was the fire at the Smoke Hole, because the studio deemed it too expensive. They didn’t want to spend more than $30 million on the movie and the budget had already ballooned to $35 million by the time Muschietti came onboard.
It’s likely that Warner Bros. could not predict the massive box office success of the movie at that time, otherwise they wouldn’t have minded so much forking over another couple of million bucks. But then maybe if that scene was in there, the movie wouldn’t have done so well. There’s no use dwelling on what could’ve been. Let’s just leave that to a parallel universe out there somewhere in which It does feature the Smoke Hole scene and it was a box office bomb.
12. It almost meant that Stranger Things didn’t exist
When It was without a director, many directors who were lovers of the book tried to get the job. The Duffer brothers wanted to do it, but they were turned down as they weren’t considered to be established enough to take on a big studio movie, so instead, they created an original supernatural story in the style of Stephen King: Stranger Things.
Mike Flanagan was also desperate to get onboard. He’s a huge Stephen King fan and eagerly campaigned for the director’s chair on the new movie of It. Luckily, Flanagan did get his Stephen King moment as his own King adaptation has been released this month: Gerald’s Game on Netflix. That’s a lot kinkier than It, but still packs the psychological scares. It seems Netflix swooped in to help all the directors who lost out on helming It.
11. Chloë Grace Moretz almost played Beverly
Chloë Grace Moretz, already a fanboy favorite in pop culture thanks to her role as Hit-Girl in the Kick-Ass movies, was under serious consideration for the role of Beverly Marsh in the earliest development stages of the movie remake of It. However, the movie spent a lot of time in development hell, and child actors grow up quickly.
By the time they came to shoot the movie with Andy Muschietti in the director’s chair — who was taking the movie in a whole new direction, anyway — Moretz was 19 years old. She became too old to play the role of Beverly, who is 11 years old in the book and around 13 in the movie.
So, Moretz lost the role to Sophia Lillis. However, Moretz still got her Stephen King moment in the lead role of the remake of Carrie. But that really sucked.
10. Tim Curry’s Pennywise is actually in the movie
When the new design of Pennywise was revealed for the new movie, there were a lot of naysayers with some negative opinions about it. They see Pennywise more as the Tim Curry version, the menacing Ronald McDonald; not the weird 16th-century pompadour outfit they’ve got Bill Skarsgard running around in.
However, the Tim Curry version is featured in the 2017 movie. It’s in the scene in which Richie goes into Pennywise’s old, derelict house and gets separated from both Bill and Eddie. He finds himself in a room full of his worst fear — clowns, of course — before Pennywise jumps out of a coffin to terrorize him.
But before that, we see one clown in particular sticking out in the left hand side of the frame. It’s the Tim Curry version of Pennywise in all his glory!
9. The Paul Bunyan statue has more significance in the novel
In one aerial shot of Derry in the movie, you see a huge Paul Bunyan statue. It’s a terrible eyesore. Luckily, in the movie, it’s only contained to that one aerial shot — thrown in there as an Easter egg — because in the book, it’s featured much more prominently.
In the book, you don’t have to look at it. It brings the Paul Bunyan statue to life and uses it to chase Richie around town and terrorize him. It’s probably for the best that this scene was nixed from the movie adaptation, because it probably wouldn’t translate well to the screen.
It would look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man outside the confines of a comedy. Bad idea. King based the statue in the novel on an actual statue of that nature in Bass Park in Bangor, Maine.
8. There’s a meta moment in the opening scene
Everyone loves a meta moment. A sly little self-reference where the audience can go, “Ah, I get it, I get it.” However, It is not the kind of movie you’d expect to find a funny little meta reference in. You usually get them in a Seth MacFarlane movie or a Jump Street movie or a Marvel movie written by comedy writers.
But the meta moment in It is kind of creepy, so that justifies it. It’s in the opening scene, Georgie chases the paper boat down the street. It disappears down the storm drain where Pennywise lurks. Georgie panics and says, “Bill’s gonna kill me.” Then Pennywise repeats him: “Bill’s gonna kill ya.”
The actor playing Pennywise is named Bill Skarsgard and he does, in fact, kill Georgie in that scene.
7. The movie took a looong time to get made
A movie remake of It has been in development since 2009. Warner Bros. announced their plans to make a new It movie, so a screenwriter named David Kajganich became committed to honoring the studio’s terms for a screenplay. He condensed the whole story into 120 pages — about two hours of filmed material.
It was Kajganich’s idea to shift the 1950s-1980s time gap of the novel to a more modernized and relatable 1980s-present version. When True Detective director Cary Fukunaga took over the project in 2012, both directing and writing the script, the story went back to being told in two parts like the novel.
Fukunaga cast Will Poulter as Pennywise — yes, that’s Kenny from We’re the Millers — in his search to find the “perfect guy to play Pennywise.” Producer Dan Lin said that, regarding Fukunaga’s version of the script, Stephen King himself gave them “his blessing.”
However, in 2015, budget cuts at the studio meant Fukunaga would have to make the film for cheaper and compromise his artistic vision. So he quit and Andy Muschietti replaced him. Poulter dropped out and Bill Skarsgard filled in; the movie finally got made, and was a tremendous hit.
But it took eight years of needless spending and broken creative hearts to get there.
6. The New Kids on the Block reference is weirdly significant
When Beverly first meets Ben, he’s listening to music — a New Kids on the Block song. But instead of making fun of him, Bev admits that she, too, is a fan of the band. This is the first topic in a long friendship that they bond over. This reference is weirdly significant in a very interesting way.
One of the members of the New Kids on the Block band is Mark Wahlberg’s brother, Donnie Wahlberg, who starred in the 2003 movie Dreamcatcher. Dreamcatcher was not only an adaptation of another King work, but was also set in the town of Derry, Maine. It’s just one big coincidence, let’s be honest — it wasn’t intentional — but it is interesting.
5. Bill Skarsgard really thought about the character of Pennywise
Actor Bill Skarsgard really delved deep into who this character was and what it would be like to be in his big clown shoes when he was given the role of Pennywise/It. He said, “It’s such an extreme character. Inhumane. It’s beyond even a sociopath because he’s not even human. He’s not even a clown. I’m playing just one of the beings It creates.”
He added, “It truly enjoys the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt. What’s funny to this evil entity might not be funny to everyone else. But he thinks it’s funny.” Therefore, Skarsgard got invested in It’s sick sense of humor and used it to do the character justice and terrify the living hell out of the kids on set in the process.
4. Beverly might have written anti-Pennywise graffiti in the school
In the scene in which Beverly is sitting in the bathroom at school, getting taunted by the other girls with various contradictory insults, the graffiti “HATE CLOWN” can be seen written on the wall of the cubicle.
This is obviously a reference to Pennywise the Dancing Clown, who’s been terrorizing the town’s children for a while at this point as it’s been 27 years since he last turned up. So, the kids are clearly responding to his loitering and his little fright show through artistic expression.
“HATE CLOWN.” It gets down to the point, doesn’t it? Not a word wasted, like Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. But what’s interesting here is that “HATE CLOWN” is written in black marker, and who should be holding a black marker pen in this scene but one Beverly Marsh? Did she write it? That’s the mystery.
3. There’s a bunch of Stephen King Easter eggs in the movie
Aside from being a human story being told through the lens of your deepest childhood fears, the movie is also Andy Muschietti’s love letter to the King of horror. So he packed it full of references to King’s other stories.
For example, the Belch Huggins character wears an Anthrax t-shirt with the lyric “Follow me or die” written on it. That’s taken from Anthrax’s song “Among the Living,” which they wrote about King’s book The Stand. There’s also the small issue of the turtle god that presides over the Stephen King universe.
This turtle is the hero in It and also features in The Dark Tower series. He’s reflected in the Lego turtle that Bill finds in Georgie’s bedroom before It lures him down into the basement. Also, the slideshow scene is a reference to King’s story “The Sun Dog.”
2. Many actors were considered for Pennywise
Pennywise the Dancing Clown is a tricky character to play, and an even trickier role to cast. Since Bill Skarsgard fit the role like a glove and really made it his own, you’d think it would be easier to pick someone to fill the big clown shoes left by Tim Curry in 1990.
Before Andy Muschietti took over, the initial director Cary Fukunaga had cast Will Poulter in the role. Anyway, after Muschietti took over, many actors were considered before Skarsgard.
Mark Rylance was considered, but he’s way, way out of It’s league. He’s an Oscar winner. He’s reserved for movies like Dunkirk and Bridge of Spies. It isn’t his creative cup of tea.
And then there’s Ben Mendelsohn, the guy from Rogue One, who had the audacity to turn down the offer because the studio wanted him to take a pay cut — or maybe the studio suits were bold, it depends how highly you rate Mendelsohn.
Also considered were Kirk Acevedo, Richard Armitage, and Hugo Weaving — that would’ve been interesting, he’s a genuinely creepy dude. The strangest casting choice under consideration was Tilda Swinton. Would that have been a female Pennywise or an androgynous Pennywise?
1. Many graphic scenes were removed for the movie
You might think that the new It movie is pretty graphic, but it’s got nothing on Stephen King’s original. The novel featured many scenes that were cut out of the story when it was adapted for film, because they simply couldn’t show such scenes involving children.
For example, in the book, Patrick gives Henry a handjob, Patrick suffocates his infant brother, and Beverly isn’t just tormented and perved on by her father — she’s mercilessly beaten by him, over and over again.
Also, at the end, after the kids defeat Pennywise, in the book, Bev takes off her clothes in the sewer and has sex with each and every one of her friends. It’s an orgy with children. It’s really disturbing and graphic.
King justified it by saying, “Times have changed since I wrote that scene and there is now more sensitivity to those issues,” but you must have a pretty messed-up mind to conjure up stuff like that, no matter what time in history you’re doing it.