In some ways it's ironic when a producer working on a remake of an early '90s classic references a modern day TV series that emulates a collection of '80s classics as a barometer for what the said remake will be like. But that's exactly what It remake producer Dan Lin has done, citing Stranger Things as an indication of the tone of Pennywise's new adventure.
The original TV miniseries from 1990 was based on Stephen King's novel of the same name, and has earned a cult following in the year's that have passed. Tim Curry's wide-eyed stare, open-mouthed grin and sinister clown make-up combined with erratic sewer dwelling to create a character that has continued to live on in nightmares.
With such an iconic character, news of Andy Muscietti's remake was met with a sigh of trepidation; it's a rarity for a remake to ever reach the heights of the original, and for some, it's seen as lazy and creativity shortcut. So the question is: What will it take for the It remake to be a success?
Can It Be A Hit?
The project has already been passed on like recently roasted jacket potato. Cary Fukunaga was originally signed on to direct, but fell out with the studio over creative differences. That led to Muscietti taking control, but also meant that Will Poulter — who had signed on to play Pennywise — was then replaced by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgard.
Now filming has begun, the uncertainty should've settled, and we can begin to look forward to what It can offer that will both differentiate it from the original, but retain the same level of creepiness and intrigue. In an interview with Collider, producer Dan Lin provided the interesting comparison. He said:
"I think a great analogy is actually Stranger Things, and we’re seeing it on Netflix right now. It’s very much an homage to ’80s movies, whether it’s classic Stephen King or even Spielberg. Think about Stand by Me as far as the bonding amongst the kids. But there is a really scary element in Pennywise."
While citing Stranger Things is in itself a little... strange, delving a little deeper makes it an odd comparison to make. The genius behind the hit Netflix show, the Duffer Brothers, confirmed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that they had actually asked Warner Bros. if they could direct the feature — they were turned down. Matt Duffer said:
"We asked, and that's why we ended up doing this, because we'd asked Warner Brothers. I was like, 'Please,' and they were like, 'No.' This was before Cary Fukunaga. This was a long time ago."
A Good Template To Follow
However, this could be good news for the franchise. Rather then deviate too far from the original tone, the remake will serve itself well by sticking to classic tropes, which the Netflix show achieved to such a high level. After all, there is a reason the original worked. If the remake can build on that, while providing a fresh perspective, It could work.
There's also a common thread between both. Finn Wolfhard — one of the standout young actors of the Netflix show playing Mike Wheeler — is also in the cast of It. The child actors were heavily lauded for their likability and authenticity, and it's a coup to have Finn on board. Lin's comparison to Stand By Me is also interesting, considering how much the movie had an imprint in Stranger Things.
The bond of the juvenile crew are crucial to the telling of the story. Pennywise preys on young children, and the group of outcasts named The Losers Club take on the mission of destroying him. The chemistry between the young cast is essential, and an area Lin feels confident about. He added:
"Really great chemistry is always a challenging thing with a movie like It because you’re casting kids who don’t have a ton of experience, but it ended up being really natural.
"Each kid, like a Goonies or Stand By Me, has a very specific personality and they’re forming the loser’s club obviously. And now finally the evil force is coming into our movie. We’ve spent a few months getting the kids to bond and now they’re going to fight this evil, scary clown."
So, swap in Pennywise for the monster in Stranger Things and you have a feature film that could take all the best bits and plonk them in a different setting. In theory, it could work, but maybe Warner Bros. should've given the Duffer Brothers the job? But then if they did, Stranger Things wouldn't have happened.
It is due for release on 8 September 2017.