27 years ago, the miniseries IT hit TV screens and forever ruined the image of clowns for kids all over the world. Based on the horror novel by renowned author Stephen King and starring a terrifying Tim Curry as the creepy title character, the series achieved cult status and left fans wondering if there would be a director brave enough to tackle the idea of an It movie.
It turns out there is one plucky soul out there- Argentinian director Andy Muschietti, whose claim to fame is the terrifying Mama (Jessica Chastain, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). Once a screenwriter, Muschietti’s directorial debut was a chilling supernatural horror that even impressed Guillermo del Toro.
For fans of the original series, It will be a revisit to one of their childhood nightmares and for the younger audiences, this will be a horror movie that they’ll find quite unlike any other they’ve seen before. Before you hit the theatres to catch It, here’re 13 facts to know.
1. It almost didn’t happen
Stephen King had written the first draft of the novel in 1980, following the completion of his other classic, Firestarter (which was made into a movie starring Drew Barrymore in 1984). The process was too draining for him and he only picked up the draft again after a year. At this time, King was struggling with alcohol and drug addictions, which impeded his ability to finish. It was only published in 1986. By far his longest book, King calls It "the summation of everything I have learned and done in my whole life to this point."
2. A long production process
Warner Brothers already had plans to develop an It movie as far back as 2009. The whole process, from rights acquisition to start of filming, took seven years.
3. Pennywise the IT Clown
Bill Skarsgard (Atomic Blonde), son of Stellan Skarsgard, plays the role Tim Curry once portrayed. Curry was invited to reprise the role, but he declined. There were many other big names considered, such as Johnny Depp, Tilda Swinton, Richard Armitage, Tom Hiddleston, Jackie Earle Haley, Jim Carrey, Kirk Acevedo, Willem Dafoe, Paul Giamatti, Hugo Weaving, Doug Jones, and Channing Tatum.
4. Terrified Kids
To maintain the realism in their expressions, director Muschietti intentionally kept Skarsgard away from the child actors, until a scene where he had to scare a group of children. When he first walked onto the set in full costume and makeup, the kids were suitably scared and by the scene’s end, all the children were crying. Skarsgard felt so guilty that he apologised immediately after the camera stopped rolling,
5. Practice makes perfect
Bill Skarsgard was on set since the movie started shooting, even though his scenes as Pennywise only kicked in during mid-production. He spent a large amount of time with the director and producers to perfect his mannerisms. On top of being creepy, Skarsgard injected a dash of playfulness in Pennywise, an update to Curry’s version. To be even more convincing, he trained movements and mannerisms from a contortionist. He was largely alienated from the rest of the cast, and felt left out, which actually helped in the building of his character.
6. Nightmares are made of these
Not only are the children on the set afraid of Pennywise, Skarsgard himself was terrified. He admitted to having nightmares during filming, because he was so into the character.
7. Choosing the director
The Duffer Brothers, who are huge fans of Stephen King, pitched to direct the movie, but were not picked because they were deemed not established enough. The pair are mostly known for their writing work. Undeterred, they went on to create the hit series Stranger Things, where they pay homage to Stephen King.
8. The number 27
27 is a significant number for this movie production. In the novel, Pennywise comes to Derry (the town) every 27 years to kill children. The movie release in 2017 also marks 27 years since the original miniseries. Incidentally, Jonathan Brandis, the actor who played the original Bill Denbrough in the miniseries, took his own life at age 27. Bill Skarsgard, who plays Pennywise in this movie update, turned 27 during production.
9. It could have starred Hit Girl
Chloe Grace Moretz, known for her breakthrough role as Hit Girl in Superbad, was tied to the movie during the early production stages. However, with the project delayed in the development stages, Moretz had outgrown the age her character, Beverly, was supposed to be. At 19, she was considered too old, and the role went to Sophia Lillis.
10. Author’s stamp of approval
Author Stephen King was given an early screening of the movie, at around six months before release, and said that the movie had surpassed his expectations.
11. No special effects needed for this
In the movie, there are times where Pennywise’s eyes had to look in two different directions and director Muschietti had planned on using CGI in post-production to achieve this. However, Skarsgard had the unusual ability to do this on his own, and what you’ll see on screen was completely the actor’s works.
12. Smashing Records
When the It teaser trailer dropped in March, it garnered 197 million views globally within 24 hours of its release. This broke the record previously set by Fast & Furious 8, which stood at 139 million views.
13. There will be another
If you already feel you can’t get enough of It, don’t fret. This movie is planned as the first of two instalments. In the novel, the children of Derry grew up and return to this troubled town 27 years after their terrible ordeal happen, to confront the monster that haunted them when they were children. This will be in the second instalment, so expect some pretty fun casting speculations after you get over nightmares from watching the first.