Stephen King IT cover

The shelving of Cary Fukunaga’s It hit me hard. It seemed like such a perfect match that it naturally had to die. Not much has surfaced in the wake of this soul-crushing news. Until today.

TheWrap is reporting that Mama director Andy Muschietti is negotiating to take over the two-part film. Will Poulter, who was announced as Pennywise when Fukunaga was still on board, is no longer attached to the project but isn’t being excluded either. TheWrap says that he could return depending on his schedule and if he fits Muschietti’s take on the character. Considering that New Line will also be hiring a new writer, I’m thinking that’s probably an unlikely scenario.

Having not seen Mama, I can’t make a judgment call on whether or not Muschietti is a good fit for the project, other than he’s played in the horror genre before and with some good cast members (Jessica Chastain and Jaime Lannister!). Two elements of his involvement do have me curious.

1) Will his version of the story utilize big portions of the previous script? Specifically, will this film keep the update of the time period that Fukunaga’s version was reported to have? The story in the novel take places primarily in two decades: the 1950s when the protagonists are children and the 1980s when they return as adults to fight Pennywise again. Fukunaga’s version was supposed to update that to the 1980s and the 2010s, bring the story into modern day (which, to be fair, was what the book was doing at the time). I feel like It could work in this updated context, but so much of the story is dependent on the prolific nature of movie monsters, and we just don’t have as strong of a monster culture as we did in the 50s and 80s. It’d be nice to get a horror movie movie that also functioned as a modern period piece (it’s like Mad Men with more kid murder!), so I’m hoping Muschietti’s involvement could return the story to its original timeline.

2) Seeing as budget issues were a big part of Fukunaga’s departure, does bringing Muschietti in mean that New Line wants to use his sensibilities to downsize the scale of the film? I’ve argued that the horror genre needs to enter a period where it attempts to compete with other tentpole productions in terms of scope and budget. Crimson Peak looks like it could be the first such attempt to do this (which is one of the many reasons you must go see it), but having it be an original property dulls its chances of a wide-reaching success. Something as marketable as It has a better shot at broadening the playing field for the horror genre. It’s a well-known and well-loved property, and the story lends itself to a much bigger budget when it comes to creating memorable monsters. Mama looks like a very small film (again, haven’t seen it, so educate me in the comments and on the forums), and I don’t want It to be treated like every other studio horror film: make it cheap so we can guarantee a quick profit. This is a story that deserves to be given the same treatment as a Marvel movie. I think it has that kind of potential when it comes to making a horror film that could reach a large audience.

I guess I’m off to get a copy of Mama to see what this Muschietti guy can do. I’m certain as soon as I watch it, he’ll be off the project. I know how this movie’s luck and mine work out.

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