Stephen King credits the blockbuster success of IT, directed by Andrés Muschietti and based on his 1986 novel of the same name, with nostalgia for the original 1990 TV movie adaptation. Tommy Lee Wallace’s two-part miniseries starring Tim Curry as the titular clown, Pennywise, released in 1990 on ABC and became a favorite amongst horror fans. Unfortunately, its short, 3-hour length forced Wallace and co-writer Lawrence D. Cohen to cut multiple subplots out of the film. But, Curry’s performance managed to elevate the miniseries into a cult classic.
Various movie studios have attempted to capture the popularity of the novel and the miniseries on the big screen ever since. Beasts of No Nation and True Detective season 1 director Cary Fukunaga spent years developing the project and he came close to going into production, but he ultimately exited the film due to creative differences with New Line Cinema. However, he still received screenwriting credit for the final product alongside Gary Dauberman and Chase Palmer. And in the end, Muschietti’s film became an overwhelming critical and commercial success. IT grossed $698 million at the worldwide box office and became the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie ever to release and the second highest-grossing R-rated film overall (unadjusted for ticket price inflation).
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Box office analysts were astounded by IT‘s success, and Stephen King himself couldn’t deduce the reason the film was so popular amongst general audiences. But now, in an interview with EW, King credits the novel’s 1990 TV adaptation as well as simply being “the right movie at the right time.”
“I think one of the things that really happened was that 1990 miniseries. A whole generation of kids between the ages of 8 and 14 were scared sh—less by Tim Curry and when the new one came out it was a chance to revisit that particular experience in their childhood. Then there was this weird viral bulge in stories about creepy clowns. That was in the press all over the place. So it was a number of different things. It was the right movie at the right time.”
IT is Warner Bros. Pictures’ second highest-grossing film of the year, behind Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, which itself took the world by surprise and became the highest-grossing superhero origin movie with $821.8 million under its belt. Both movies lead Warner Bros.’ slate this year and helped push the studio passed the $5 billion mark at the worldwide box office. What’s interesting is that IT may remain in second place for Warners as Justice League‘s theatrical run starts to die down. In the end, the first live-action Justice League film may gross less than the first big-screen IT adaptation.
Muschietti recently revealed that the sequel, IT: Chapter 2, will explore multiple dimensions and take the series back to the ’80s. But for now, they have to focus on casting the adult versions of the Loser’s Club. IT: Chapter 2 is scheduled to enter production in spring 2018 and is slated to hit theaters two years after the first chapter in September 2019.
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