Warner Brothers is still set on bringing Stephen King's clown monster to life. Screenwriter Dave Kajganich (The Invasion) has the difficult job of adapting the book into a 120-page screenplay. And his latest update makes us all kinds of nervous.
We loved everything about It. Loved it. Loved the complicated and incredibly long and drawn out book which dedicates too many pages to little boys lighting their farts in the barrens. Loved the 1,000 characters and how by the end everyone had a different favorite — mine was Stan Uris. We even loved the TV miniseries, mainly because Tim Curry was just so damn frightening. So, yes, we're nervous as hell about WB's new movie. In a recent interview with the screenwriter, Kajganich, you can kind of tell that he's struggling with shrinking down the book matter, and trying to live up to the TV miniseries, which we respect. But it's a lot of material to put in one movie and not just have it end up saying, "the monster clown is scary!" Kajganich elaborated on his struggles in an interview with Lilja's Library:
When I heard Warner Bros. was going to give the novel a go theatrically, I went after the job hard. I knew the studio was committed to adapting IT as a single film, so I went back and reread the novel to see if I thought this was even possible, and to try to find a structure that would accommodate such a large number of characters in two different time periods, around 120 pages, which was another of the studio's stipulations. Had I not worked with the producers before, I might have been more tentative about trying to pull off such a massive undertaking, but I'd worked with Dan Lin, Roy Lee, and Doug Davison on our original version of The Invasion, and I knew they would fight for good storytelling, and would also give me the time I needed to work out a solid first draft, which they did. They really went to bat for that. We've done some tinkering with it and I am just about to turn that draft in to the studio, so we'll soon know a lot more. In all of my talks with the studio, it has only ever been discussed as a single feature film. The book's length is clearly more suited to a mini-series-and I understand very well why they went that route the last time around-but I think the book's content is really more appropriate for cinema. I told the studio from the beginning that I felt I needed to be able to write for an R rating, since I wanted to be as candid as the novel about the terrible things the characters go through as kids. They agreed and off I went. … I think the biggest difference [between the big screen adaptation and the miniseries] is that we're working with about two-thirds the onscreen time they had for the miniseries. That sounds dire, I know, but it doesn't necessarily mean two-thirds the amount of story. I'm finding as many ways as I can to make certain scenes redundant by deepening and doubling others. To me, this is an interesting process because it has the effect of thematically intensifying the whole, but it can lead to dramatic surprises. Certain scenes I thought would be crucial to the coherence of the whole ended up cut, while other scenes, which were somewhat cursory in the book, ended up being pivotal in the script. I know I'm being vague, but there's not a lot I can tell you at this point about the specifics, since we're still very much in development on it. I'll just say for now that we're really swinging for the fences.
Fight the good fight, Kajganich — but to be honest, the crux of this film is going to rest in the casting. Good luck whoever has to follow Tim Curry.