We're Already De-Aging Kids for Movies

These kid are gonna look weeeeeeird.
Photo: New Line Cinema

Visual effects are starting to take on a life of their own, by digitally recreating other people’s pasts. It’s been used to de-age Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, to recreate Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and to transform Will Smith into a younger clone of himself for Gemini Man. Now, it’s making children look younger for It Chapter Two.

In an interview with Total Film (via Syfy), director Andy Muschietti shared more on how the sequel to 2017's horror film It plans to bring the children back to Derry, Maine. It was previously revealed that the original Losers Club would reprise their roles in a series of flashbacks that represent the adults regaining their lost memories, since leaving Derry forces you to forget Pennywise. But it’s been two years since the first film, and those gosh darned kid actors have that pesky habit of getting older.

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Usually, shows and films expect audiences to be more forgiving—like how the kids in Stranger Things have clearly outgrown their role’s ages, but you let it go because, well, it’s a TV show. But now, technology is replacing suspension of disbelief. Muschietti revealed that the movie will digitally de-age the kids so they look like their 2017 selves—and it wasn’t a last-minute decision:

From the beginning, we knew that that would be part of the budget—the visual effects to address that. So, we’re going to de-age the kids.

I get that Hollywood has this shiny new toy that can make movies feel more accurate to a fault, but there’s a point where it starts approaching the point of no return. Digitally de-aging children who, let’s be frank, haven’t aged that much, puts more value on their canonicity than their performance.

Visual effects, no matter how advanced, still can’t fully replicate the human face. It always takes something away. Sometimes, that’s an okay trade-off. With Gemini Man, it’s the only way for Ang Lee to tell a very specific story, and they’ve made a lot of advancements to achieve that. For It Chapter Two, I don’t think it’s worth it. There’s no reason not to trust the audience to understand that kids will always get older, and we can just look past broadening shoulders, a bit of new acne, or an extra inch of height.

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It Chapter Two comes out September 5, with or without a cameo from Renesmee.


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Beth Elderkin

Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.