One of the most anticipated horror films of the year is finally here. Two years after introducing a new version of Stephen King's classic nightmare to the screen, director Andy Muschietti and an incredible ensemble cast are back for It Chapter Two, the film that chronicles the second showdown between Pennywise and the Losers' Club, 27 years after their first clash. The film is expected to absolutely devour box-office glory this weekend, but it's not the only It-related release you can indulge in.
Today also marks the debut of The World of IT, the official behind-the-scenes companion book to both films, written by SYFY WIRE contributor Alyse Wax and published by Abrams. Wax, a self-described "devoted horror fan," dug deep into the making of the films for this beautifully illustrated book, gathering everything from concept art and storyboards to interviews with Muschietti, his sister and producing partner Barbara Muschietti, and the cast who brought the characters to life on the big screen. SYFY WIRE is pleased to offer an exclusive sneak peek at some of the book's beautifully orchestrated art spreads below.
In a chat with SYFY WIRE, Wax noted that, despite a lifelong love of horror, she didn't actually grow up with a major connection to It.
"I have actually never read It! I am just a devoted horror fan," Wax said. "I watched a LOT of King movies growing up. Misery and Sleepwalkers were two of my favorites. Ironically, I never watched the 1990 It miniseries until I was an adult. But I had seen all the wonderful Tim Curry parts."
In working on The World of IT, Wax was able to immerse herself in the version of the mythology Muschietti and company built, digging deep into how this version of Pennywise the Dancing Clown came to life. That meant she had access to certain things that we won't even get to see on the big screen, though just like the rest of the fans she had to wait a little while before she saw Chapter Two.
"When I finally saw it, there were some things in [The World of IT] that weren’t in the film, so that will be fun for fans," she said.
One of the most intriguing aspects of a book like The World of IT is the concept art, and seeing how the visual ideas at work in the early stages ultimately evolved as the production progressed. For Wax, one of the particular joys of the project was spending so much time with Muschietti's own concept sketches.
"I think all the concept art was used, to one degree or another, in the film," she said. "There were several versions of the hellhound from Chapter Two that I loved. There were A LOT of different versions of Pennywise — with different elements put together. Frankly, I really liked what ended up in the final films … but there were several sketches of Pennywise in different states where he had multiple eyeballs. I really liked that look. In general, I also love Andy’s sketches of Pennywise. They are both scary and cute — that is totally my aesthetic."
Wax has an interesting perspective on the It films because she was able to get as close as anyone can get to the filmmaking process without actually being a member of the cast or crew. So, now that she's spent so much time and energy immersed in the world of It, what does she find is the secret ingredient to why these films are such massive global hits?
"The cast. They are magic together," she said. "You can see it on-screen; you can see it off-screen. In addition, it is clear that Andy really knows the story, respects the story, and feels a deep connection with the story. With a tale so beloved, it is important that it is adapted by someone who feels the same."
The World of IT is available now from Abrams.