The team behind the new adaptation of Stephen King’s ‘It’ should all be floating on air. The film earned an astounding $123 million in its opening weekend, nearly doubling predictions of $65 million.
It should also make avid readers of King’s work extremely happy; especially following the summer’s depressing adaptation of his novel ‘The Dark Tower.’ ‘It’ serves as proof that audiences will come out in droves if one of the more bizarre King novels is brought to the screen while remaining faithful to the original source material.
So now we wonder, what’s next? With the obvious set up for a sequel at the end of the film, fans are eager to learn more. Here is everything we have learned.
As those who saw the film already know, it ends with the phrase “Chapter One” underneath the title, and a disembodied giggle from Bill Skarsgard’s Pennywise the Dancing Clown. This leads us to believe that he will be back for round two.
The creators of the film planned all along to cut King’s 1,000-plus page novel in half, separating the story of the kids in the Losers Club from the equivalent story of their adult selves as they return to the town of Derry to confront the evil presence they thought they had overcome as kids.
Chapter One took place between 1988 and 1989, while Chapter Two will be set in the present day. It will feature the Losers Club as adults, reunited by their blood-oath at the end of the film to fight Pennywise again if he resurrects in 27 years.
Director Andy Muschietti (best known for ‘Mama’, a film King himself praised as one of his favorites of 2013) says the second film will still feature the loveable youngsters from the first film. They will appear as memories of the adult versions of the Losers Club. Muschietti said:
“On the second movie, that dialogue between timelines will be more present. If we’re telling the story of adults, we are going to have flashbacks that take us back to the ‘80s and inform the story in the present day.”
Barbara Muschietti, the director’s sister and producing partner, said that as of Monday morning, ‘It: Chapter Two’ still has not been given the official greenlight from New Line Cinema and Warner Bros., but the writing and development of the film have already been underway.
There is little to no doubt now that it will move forward, but it does need to happen sooner rather than later. Barbara explained of bringing the kids back:
“The hope is we’ll find the best way soon, because it’s also important for Andy to get flashbacks with the kids, who are growing very fast. They are an important component in the next film.”
Muschietti stresses that the kid won’t just be featured in brief throwbacks, but will be vital to the events that unfold for the adults.
“They’re a very big part of the action.”
While there have been no official casting announced for the sequel, Muschietti and the other producers on the film, which include Seth Grahame-Smith, David Katzenberg, Roy Lee, and Dan Lin, have had their gears turning since the start.
There has been a lot of speculation among those who worked on the first film, even the Loser’s Club cast their votes for who should play their future selves. Jessica Chastain was brought up as an option for the grown-up version of Sophia Lillis’ Beverly Marsh, as well as Amy Adams. Lillis is playing the young version of Adams in the HBO adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel ‘Sharp Objects.’
Others involved in the process have mentioned that going for unknown actors could suit the sequel better if adult doppelgängers for the Losers can’t be easily found. While no official announcements on casting have been made, it will be interesting to see who fits the bill for Chapter Two.
Muschietti previously mentioned plans for one of the main characters, the one who doesn’t escape. Those who’ve read King’s book know, Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs) one of the only black kids in Derry, is the member of the Losers who stays behind. While the rest of the Club flees as far away as they can get, he serves as a watchman, despite suffering at the hands of the town’s bigoted bullies.
Hanlon is one of the strongest of the Losers Club when they’re kids, and demonstrates a loyalty that sticks with the others far beyond their childhood days. However, Muschietti explains his good deeds will not go unpunished, as his devotion will weaken him mentally and physically by the time the others return.
While King’s version of Mike Hanlon was a good-natured librarian, the movie’s version of Mike will turn out to have a heartbreaking history of his own. Much of which a result of immersing himself in the study of the nameless evil dwelling beneath. Muschietti explains:
“My idea of Mike in the second movie is quite darker from the book. I want to make his character the one pivotal character who brings them all together, but staying in Derry took a toll with him. I want him to be a junkie actually. A librarian junkie. When the second movie starts, he’s a wreck. He’s not just the collector of knowledge of what Pennywise has been doing in Derry. He will bear the role of trying to figure out how to defeat him. The only way he can do that is to take drugs and alter his mind.”
Hanlon’s development will mirror a part of King’s novel that didn’t make the first film; the Loser kids taking part in a Native American ritual to get a glimpse of the supernatural plane, bringing them into contact with entities that can help them stop the creature behind the Pennywise mask. Muschietti explains:
“It resonates with what the kids do when they go to the smokehouse in the Barrens. By inhaling these fumes from the fire they have visions of It, and the origin of It, and the falling fire in the sky that crashed into Derry millions of years ago. We’ve brought that to Mike, by the end of those 30 years Mike has figured out the Ritual of Chüd.”
The Ritual of Chüd in King’s novel is sort of an old-world spirituality that involves a duel of imagination between the shapeshifting trickster (It) and the children (now adults) who want to end It once and for all.
As Hanlon sounds the alarm to his old friends that they must return, his addiction becomes just another demon he has to battle.
Warning: This next part may be spoiler-y if you haven’t read the book! Proceed at your own risk!
Readers of the novel will remember that in the opening chapters, we learn that one of the Losers can’t bring himself to fulfill his promise to return. Instead, when Hanlon contacts him to say Pennywise has come back, he commits suicide.
This sets the tone of the story immediately. Whatever it is that the adults are returning to face, it must be so terrible, so scarring, that one of them would rather die than face it again.
That character is, of course, Stan Uris (Wyatt Oleff), who was celebrating his Bar Mitzvah in the first film. Stan also endured abuse from the town bullies simply for being Jewish. Stan was affected by the encounter with Pennywise in ways the other Losers were not. Muschietti explains:
“There is something in the future for him, taking his own life, that finds its seed in this film. He is the one who doesn’t want to accept what’s going on. And being the one who didn’t want to participate he gets the worst part.”
Those who’ve seen the film know what Muschietti is referring to. While down in Derry’s sewer system, Stan separates from the group and runs into It in the form of the creepy woman from the painting in his father’s study. When his friends finally find him, It has its tooth-filled jaws around his head and is sucking Stan’s face into its mouth. Although he survives, the memory lives with makes him decide he simply can’t face It again.
“The thing about Stan is he doesn’t bend. He breaks.”
Remember when I said no casting has been confirmed? I lied. One actor has definitely been locked for the sequel.
“We got Pennywise!” Barbara Muschietti says.
“We’ve got Pennywise and it’s Bill Skarsgard,” Muchietti states.
So there you have it. ‘It: Chapter Two’ is still very much a work in progress, but from what we do know, it promises to be every bit as terrifyingly awesome as its predecessor!