Cary Fukunaga Offers New Details on Why ‘It’ Remake Fell Apart

'It' Remake: Cary Fukunaga Offers New
Courtesy of Warner Bros./Rex Shutterstock

For a cover story this week on “Beasts of No Nation,” Cary Fukunaga explained to Variety why he bailed this summer on New Line’s horror movie remake of Stephen King’s “It.” Fukunaga had already written a script with Chase Palmer on the project, which he first boarded in 2012 (it started at Warner Bros. before it was moved to New Line). The studio is now looking to hire a new director with a fresh script.

Fukunaga had planned on making “It” into two films. Although early reports indicated that the director left over budgetary concerns, Fukunaga maintained that wasn’t the case. Both sides had agreed on making the two films for $32 million, according to the director. But Fukunaga said he had bigger disagreements with New Line over the direction of the story. A rep from New Line didn’t respond to a request for a comment. Here’s Fukunaga’s explanation:

Fukunaga: “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. 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.

“We invested years and so much anecdotal storytelling in it. 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.”

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  1. Maria Sanchez says:

    I was going to see this. Now I am not.

  2. Jason Roberts says:

    Who cares if it offends people…someone will always be offended…you can’t please everyone. If you want a bland non offensive movie about King’s book “It” watch the 80’s movie. Great art or comedy is always offensive…that’s half the fun.

  3. mc says:

    They shouldn’t make movies out of It!!!!! It will suck no matter who makes it.It if is way too big of a story To be told in even two movies. It’s should be atwo season show on HBO or Showtime, even AMC.

  4. Roger says:

    Are they going to include the 12 year old orgy in this version? That was the most disturbing thing I ever read. King should be watched as it makes me wonder if he’s a pedophile in real life. Who thinks of that garbage?

    • Joanne says:

      You are ill.

      • Samson Davis says:

        And you are ignorant, Joanne. If you’ve read the book, you’d know that there IS, in fact, a 12 year old gangbang in the sewers. But instead, you act like an idiot and assume that this person has a deficiency. You disgust me.

  5. The reason most King adaptations are so bad is that the studios just don’t understand. They want a horror movie for the fall season, and in their minds, that means something CHEAP, SHORT, and with very little between the jump-scares. Good horror doesn’t really work in the cinema. It’s best at home, with the lights out, and cuddled up to that special someone. It’s hard to get invested in characters when all you know is that they are a jock, virgin, cheerleader or stoner, and you have people noisily munching popcorn in your ear.

    • Roger says:

      Well, King’s book version of It contains an orgy of 12 year olds all losing their virginity. So I guess that goes along with the typical movie script. Seriously, King should go on a pedophile watch list for writing that.

      • Samson Davis says:

        While I think it’s absurd to say King was ACTUALLY a pedophile, I think Susan is being obnoxious.

      • Susan says:

        Roger there are medications now for those who do not distinguish reality from fiction. Find some.

      • Klemen says:

        No, he shouldn’t. Hell, King’s written out much more horrific acts in detail, such as grotesque murder and so have many other authors. That doesn’t mean the FBI should be breathing down their throat for being potential serial killers.

  6. Brad elsmand says:

    Anyone who has read IT knows it’s all about the character development. You feel thier fear because you connect with them. You can’t get that from typical horror movie gimmicks. The model for any screenplay adaptation should be to bring out the salient character points as priority one.

  7. Cody says:

    I loved the book “It”. It is a fantastic story and the first movie they made barely scratched the surface of the story. What I wish is that directors didn’t think they could tell a better story than writers like King, or JRR Tolkien, it is absurd. They should adapt the story as written as close as they can to screen, and then they will have a masterpiece. Otherwise you end up with an autrocity like The Hobbit.

    • Klemen says:

      The problem with the Hobbit was that it was supposed to be a two movie adaptation, but the studio decided to turn it into a trilogy. Besides that, the Hobbit isn’t really a masterpiece in literature either. The final act of the story in specific is very anti-climactic.

  8. Al Swearengen says:

    Why am I not surprised to hear this? Typical Hollywood always wanting the same old boring generic cliched ideas. God forbid Cary for wanting to add some depth and character to the movies.

    He made the right decision to jump ship. Not point on spending another year or so making a film with a leash around his neck and having a miserable experience.

  9. 85wzen says:

    “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…”
    Yeah, that ALGORITHM is pretty nasty these days for the creative side of movies. Don’t be daring, don’t say anything wrong… don’t go too far in any way… play the game… play the game… everybody play the game… there really isn’t any controversy in an incestuous society that has learned how to profit.

  10. LOL says:

    You know, will David Fincher’s Se7en, P.T. Anderson’s Boogie Nights or Tony Kaye’s American History X get made at New Line Cinema today?

    Toby Emmerich is a stooge. Bring back Michael De Luca.

    • Matthew says:

      Truly. Cary Fukunaga wants to make two pictures for you with budgets of $16million each? Scripts written, millions already invested, ready to start production in a few months? That sounds exceedingly reasonable.

      • nagamedigitalcom says:

        @ Haverford West – Great point! Could not agree more with everyone here. Being too scared to poke your toe out of the box because your scared to offend people. Such sanitised garbage. Why do these people think the HBO’s & the Netflixes are CRUSHING IT?

      • Don’t forget, a ready made audience of people who loved the book.

  11. Good. There is no reason to re-write this for a movie. Leave it AS Is. Stop doing re-edits of Kings work to make money. Either produce the original intended story.. or just go home you money hungry bastards.

  12. dmoney666 says:

    I’d be curious to read the dual-movie script. The fact of the matter is it’s already a brilliant story. But, King’s books are so, I don’t know, ridiculously creative, that half of what he writes just doesn’t translate onto the screen. He’s in another dimension ahead of us all. And given the atrocity of the TV mini-series, I wouldn’t trust any studio execs to make the calls on this one.

  13. IT 2 IT says:

    Miles MATHIS has now irrefutably exposed our ENTIRE ‘pop’ culture
    is INTEL owned, controlled and RUN.

    KING is, and was, clearly always ON board.


  14. KarlHungus says:

    I don’t know if I’ve ever been more depressed about a director or even an actor leaving a project than Fukunaga exiting this. This guy knows atmosphere and storytelling. It just boggles my mind that the studio doesn’t trust him after True Detective. Not only that, but Warner Brothers still has enough money after The Dark Knight Trilogy to gamble on $30 Million especially with BvS coming out next year.

    Also Cary wanted Ben Mendelsohn for Pennywise, who would’ve been amazing. The studio forced Will Poulter.

  15. cadavra says:

    Y’know, there are a whole lot of Stephen King titles that have never been filmed. Why not do one of those instead of one that’s already been done (and pretty well)?

  16. Jeremy says:

    I dont believe this for a second.
    I’m thrilled this got canned Will Poulter as penny wise is terrible idea

  17. Matthew says:

    It’s just so sad and annoying when a studio turns down a proven director, particularly when so much work has gone into the project already, especially at such a relatively low budget, because they want to go with something more conventional and safe.

    I’ve been looking forward to this adaptation for years because of the way it was being done and who’s behind it. New Line ruins this because they want it to fit more into their ideas of what the present-day horror genre is supposed to look like, while (rumor) concurrently being scared about taking a gamble on this project because of how the Poltergeist remake(!) performed financially.

    It’s just one big giant jumble-f* of a bummer. Shame on New Line for taking the perceptively safer route out, at the expense of something that would have probably been really really interesting. Two films that would have perfectly-easily recouped and profited from a meager $32mil combined budget.

    • Teresa says:

      Exactly, and I really do not care for the new mold of horror films. They are overdone, played out cookie cutter type films that just have different characters & stories. I feel like if you seen one, you’ve seen them all & god forbid there be closure at the end instead of the played out leave you in mystery of suspense wondering what happened next, which fails because your immediate reaction is that’s so stupid they could add 5-10 minutes to the movie to clarify the end.

      The movie industry needs shaken up almost as bad as our government… or are they one in the same? That’s a whole different conversation, so I’ll end there and just say I’m saddened the “industry” didn’t let this one happen by choking the producer till the point he could use his creative ability to make this come to life.

      • Greggan says:

        Yes, Donald Trump needs to shake up the movie biz. He can start by building a wall around Hollywood and make them pay for it! ;-)

  18. Dora says:

    Development execs who have no pretty much no creative talent ruin many projects.

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