Cary Fukunaga Blames Studio Meddling for Leaving Stephen King’s IT

Posted by at 11:56 am on September 3, 2015

67th Annual DGA Awards - Arrivals

While it was initially rumored that filmmaker Cary Fukunaga left New Line’s two-part remake of Stephen King’s IT weeks before principal photography over budgetary issues, the Emmy-winning “True Detective” helmer has gone to great detail with Variety to make it plain that that was NOT the case. Rather, it seems to have been a typical case of studio tampering.

“I was trying to make an unconventional horror film,” Fukunaga states. “It didn’t fit into the algorithm of what they knew they could spend and make money back on based on not offending their standard genre audience. Our budget was perfectly fine. We were always hovering at the $32 million mark, which was their budget. It was the creative that we were really battling. It was two movies. They didn’t care about 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 wanted me to make a much more inoffensive, conventional script. But I don’t think you can do proper Stephen King and make it inoffensive.”

Fukunaga surprised many with his unconventional casting choice of young English actor Will Poulter as the central villain Pennywise, and he would have added a new dimension to the nefarious clown not seen in Tommy Lee Wallace’s 1990 TV adaptation.

“The main difference was making Pennywise more than just the clown,” said Fukunaga. “After 30 years of villains that could read the emotional minds of characters and scare them, trying to find really sadistic and intelligent ways he scares children, and also the children had real lives prior to being scared. And all that character work takes time. It’s a slow build, but it’s worth it, especially by the second film. But definitely even in the first film, it pays off. It was being rejected. Every little thing was being rejected and asked for changes. Our conversations weren’t dramatic. It was just quietly acrimonious. We didn’t want to make the same movie. We’d already spent millions on pre-production. I certainly did not want to make a movie where I was being micro-managed all the way through production, so I couldn’t be free to actually make something good for them. I never desire to screw something up. I desire to make something as good as possible.”

Now it appears that Mama director Andy Muschietti will pick up where Fukunaga left off, and the director hopes the new caretaker of the property will change as much as possible from what he had in mind.

“We invested years and so much anecdotal storytelling in it,” Fukunaga says of his and Chase Palmer’s script. “Chase and I both put our childhood in that story. So our biggest fear was they were going to take our script and bastardize it. So I’m actually thankful that they are going to rewrite the script. I wouldn’t want them to stealing our childhood memories and using that. I mean, I’m not sure if the fans would have liked what I would had done. I was honoring King’s spirit of it, but I needed to update it. King saw an earlier draft and liked it.”

The remake of Stephen King’s IT is still being produced by Dan Lin, Roy Lee, Seth Grahame-Smith and Jeffrey Katzenberg, although there is no definitive start date for the revitalized project.

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