Fukunaga’s finished version of the project was expected to be split into two separate feature films. The first would take place while the protagonists were children and the second installment would cover the portion of the book that unfolds when the children have grown up.
Will Poulter was slated to play the killer clown in Fukunaga’s version of the film. However, at this point, it seems likely that the role will be recast. The character was depicted by Tim Curry in the original adaptation.
The source material of both the 1991 television miniseries and the forthcoming remake are both based on the Stephen King tome of the same name. Fukunaga was very eager to communicate to fans that his reboot would stay very close to the source material. But with a new director on board, it’s anyone’s guess as to where the film will go.
In regards to why he left, Fukunaga told Variety “I was trying to make an unconventional horror film. 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.
“The main difference was making Pennywise more than just the clown,” Fukunaga continued. “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.”
The director went on to say, “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.”
He closed by saying, “We invested years and so much anecdotal storytelling in it. Chase [Palmer, cowriter of Fukunaga’s screenplay for the reboot] 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 stealing our childhood memories and using that. I mean, I’m not sure if the fans would have liked what I would have done. I was honoring King’s spirit of it, but I needed to update it. King saw an earlier draft and liked it.”