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Pennywise's origins to be explored in Stephen King-inspired 'IT' prequel series, 'Welcome to Derry'

The project floats from executive producer Andy Muschietti.

By Josh Weiss
it chapter 2 pennywise

Pennywise, the most frightening clown in the history of pop culture, is floating back to Derry, Maine in a new HBO Max prequel series inspired by Stephen King's ITAccording to Variety, the project (currently titled Welcome to Derry) will take place in the 1960s — two decades prior to the events of the 2017 film — and explore the origins of the shape-shifting horror that delights in scaring children before feasting on their flesh.

Andy Muschietti, who adapted King's massive horror tome into a pair of blockbuster movies for Warner Bros., is executive producing alongside Barbara Muschietti and Jason Fuchs. A "mini-writers’ room" is now underway with Fuchs leading the charge, working off a story he developed alongside the Muschiettis. At this time, it's unclear if Bill Skarsgård will step back into the sinister role he played across the feature films (which brought in over $1 billion at the global box office), or if a new actor is in line to inherit the iconic character.

Readers of the 1986 novel will know that Pennywise — who is also an inter-dimensional, Lovecraftian entity that awakens every 27 years to eat — crashed to Earth eons ago, settling deep below the spot that would later be founded as Derry. Over the centuries, Pennywise exercised its supernatural presence to not only cause gruesome incidents in and around the town, but to also promulgate a general sense of apathy among its older residents.

The being's reign of terror finally came to an end when a group of young outcasts calling themselves the "Losers Club" decided to overcome their fears and make a final stand against the cosmic fiend. Their united effort to vanquish the monster as children was unsuccessful and the group was ultimately forced to reunite as adults in order to finish off Pennywise once and for all. In its final moments, IT assumed the form of a nightmarish spider laden with eggs on the verge of hatching.

“There is a whole mythology to the book,” Andy Muschietti told i09 in 2019 when asked about whether or not he'd be open to telling more stories in this particular corner of King's writing. “Mythology is something that always has opportunities to explore. It has been on Earth for millions of years. He’s been in contact with humans for hundreds of years, every 27 years. So you can imagine the amount of material."

The filmmaker confirmed the prequel series on Instagram with a number of red balloon emojis and a single question: "Ready to go back?"

IT was previously adapted into a two-part television miniseries in 1990, which featured Tim Curry as an unforgettable Pennywise.

IT and IT: Chapter Two are now streaming on HBO Max.