They all float down there in the world of Stephen King's It, and when it came to adapting the enormous tale into feature films, some big ideas were floated too. Director Andy Muschietti and his producing partner (and sister), Barbara Muschietti, recently revealed as much.
Talking with io9, the producing pair talked about the major task of adapting King's book, which began in It Chapter One. That movie left out a lot of the book's material, and we're not just talking about the half of it that deals with the grownups. Even when just focusing on the younger side of the story, there's a lot that can be experienced only through King's gargantuan 1986 tome. In fact, the amount of material is so massive that there was once talk of doing a third chapter in addition to a second.
“We flirted with making two more films,” said Barbara Muschietti, when talking about adapting what was left for It Chapter Two. “Then it was decided that we would only make one film, but clearly there was a lot of material that Andy and our writers had to adapt.”
Nine hundred pages of prose doesn't just float itself onto a movie screen like a paper boat in a puddle, even if you've already made Part One of it already.
“The challenge was to wrap this huge work and translate it into film language," said Andy Muschietti. "So the story is leaner. It’s tighter. We turn the screws of tension to keep the audience on the edge of their seat all the time. And everything is more consequential. In the book, it’s just looser.”
They got so loose that they had to lose some things that King specifically wanted in the film, too. Muschietti says that King gave them such a list, but there were "no strings attached" and he was "very gentle" about it.
**SPOILER WARNING! Spoilers for what's NOT in It Chapter Two lurk below!**
Two things that were on King's list were the big sequence where a statue of Paul Bunyan chases Richie Tozier, and the Standpipe tumbling down a hill in Derry. Both things were not to be, because Andy "wanted to keep the ending more intimate and more about the emotions of the humans of this group."
So expect some intimacy, but do not expect a rolling Standpipe.
The terrifying twosome also discussed the issue of maintaining the stakes in the new film, as a group of "capable adults" in danger is not as scary as children being in that same danger.
“We went in knowing that we would have to raise the stakes precisely because of that. It’s harder to empathize with an adult," said Barbara. "When a child is in peril immediately you’re gonna be protective. We’re gonna feel for the situation. When it’s an adult, it depends on the adult. So we had to make sure that, two prongs, one, our adults were absolutely people we could empathize with as we did with the kids. And then, on the other hand, that the stakes were higher."
In the end, Andy describes the tale as "the end of childhood," and remarks that adulthood itself kind of functions as the villain: "Adulthood is the antagonist of childhood because it kills childhood. Everything that is great about childhood, all the treasures like imagination and the power of believing in things that don’t exist, just go away.”
Will the adult characters of It Chapter Two be able to harness their imaginations once more to defeat Pennywise for good, or will they be once again looking for a pile of rusty poles?
We'll find out when It Chapter Two opens wide this weekend. There will not be a Chapter 3, but there will be a giant supercut of the entire tale, and it will include footage that hasn't even been shot yet.