Much like Pennywise himself, the movie adaptation of IT has shifted shape more than once in the transition from page to screen, enduring a few nightmare scenarios along the way. Sure, director Andrés Muschietti may have finally released his version of Stephen King’s story to rave reviews this year, but the 31 years it took to adapt IT didn’t float on by as easily as fans might think.
Back in 2009, David Kajganich was the first director to tackle the story since Tim Curry took on the role of Pennywise in the 1990 TV adaptation. However, by 2012, Kajganich was replaced by filmmaker Cary Fukunaga. Selected following his critically lauded work on True Detective’s first season, Fukunaga developed a new script and dove headfirst into pre-production until he suddenly left the project in 2015. Andrés Muschietti stepped in to direct IT and reworked the original script to great success, but what became of Fukunaga’s original screenplay and why does controversy surround it still?
Why Did Cary Fukunaga Leave IT?
When Fukunaga first cartwheeled away from IT, a number of rumors immediately floated online, claiming that the “creative differences” cited by him and the studio stemmed from disagreements over the budget and his controversial script.
It was agreed that Fukunaga would direct the story in two parts, co-writing the script with the help of screenwriter Chase Palmer. However, concerns over the sexuality written into the film reportedly left the studio feeling rather uncomfortable, despite it featuring prominently in Stephen King’s original text. To make matters worse, Warner Bros. migrated IT over to New Line Cinema, their sister studio, and the budget was subsequently cut as a result.
Reports vary at this point; some say that Fukunaga left the project for fear that the budget cuts would compromise his vision, while others suggest that Warner Bros. fired the director after he refused to make the changes that the script required. Either way though, it’s clear that Fukunaga and New Line Cinema didn’t share the same vision of Pennywise, much like the residents of Derry who also perceived the entity in different ways.
Speaking to Variety, Fukunaga shed some light on his departure from the project, explaining 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…