At over 1000 pages, Stephen King's seminal horror novel It is a nightmare to try and adapt for the big screen, even with the benefit of being able to break it down into two parts. It's also jam-packed with mind-bending, genre-blurring elements that don't easily translate to modern cinema.
One of the trippiest parts of King's original 1986 novel is an ancient turtle called Maturin, the nauseous creator of the universe. It doesn't exactly fit in with the otherwise macabre story of kids being haunted by a blood-hungry clown demon that preys on their biggest fears and insecurities. So when director Andy Muschietti set out to adapt the book, he not only took it 30 years into the future, setting it in 1989, he largely wrote the eternal turtle out of the story. What remained was only hints — a LEGO statue here, the mention of a reptile swimming in the quarry there — of the once-crucial character.
"The moment you introduce the element of IT, which is an interdimensional evil entity, the presence of the turtle comes with it, as a counterbalance," Muschietti told SYFY WIRE. "It doesn’t seem to pay a big role, but the turtle is there. Like all mythologies, there’s a god of good and a god of evil. I didn’t want to use it as a fantastic character, but it’s hinted, every time the kids are in danger or something, I wanted to hint at the presence of the turtle. It might have a bigger role in the second one."
Might is putting it lightly, based on what Muschietti told SYFY WIRE about his plans for the sequel. Though Muschietti is still in the process of writing the second movie, he's already sketched out how Mataurin's presence will impact the plot.
"In the book, they somehow address the turtle and say 'the turtle couldn’t help us,'" he said. "But I think in the second part, the turtle will try to help them. In the second movie, the turtle left a few clues to their childhood that they don’t remember. They have to retrieve those memories from the summer of 1989, and that’s how we jump back to 1989. The keys to defeating to Pennywise are left in the past, and as adults, they don’t remember."
The first film cost only $35 million to make, and its huge success — it's made $200 million in less than a week — is giving Muschietti room to think bigger and weirder for the sequel. "We might go farther and make it a bit more interesting and unexpected," he added, acknowledging that there were some scenes he had to cut for either time or budgetary reasons.
"I definitely want to visit the Loser's clubhouse, which is something we left out of the first one," he said. "I think it’d be nice to introduce it as a place they used to go, but we don’t see it."