It’s been a long time since Stephen King fans had any reason to be excited for an upcoming film adaptation of his work. Bag of Bones was made into a mediocre mini-series last year, but the last King-based feature to hit theaters was Frank Darabont’s excellent and underrated The Mist five years ago. Between then and now the only other completed productions were several short films (usually independent “dollar babies”). It’s telling that the best film/TV entity bearing his name in the past five years is a syfy series that bears absolutely zero connection to its supposed source material (King’s short novel, The Colorado Kid).
Recent announcements haven’t been all that exciting either. The Dark Tower from the poop-filled pen of screenwriter Akiva Goldsman? The Ten O’Clock People from the director of the worst King mini-series, The Langoliers? Remakes of Firestarter, Carrie, and Pet Sematary?
Aside from a tease that Ben Affleck may develop The Stand as an upcoming directorial project the news has been fairly grim. Which is why what follows is so damn exciting (and unexpected).
Per The Hollywood Reporter, Cary Fukunaga has signed on to direct a two-part film adaptation of King’s epic novel, It. The massive tome about childhood, growing up and coulrophobia was adapted once before into a 1990 ABC mini-series, but while it had its charms the limitations of television (and the tepid cast of TV has-beens) made it an uneventful affair… with the singular exception of Tim Curry’s memorable portrayal of Pennywise the Clown.
The novel moves back and forth between the past and the present (the 1980s originally, but sure to be updated for the movies) as a group of friends face off against an ancient evil in their home town of Derry, Maine. They fight and defeat the monster as kids only to discover as adults that the entity has survived and is now forcing them back to finish what they started. As with many of King’s books the story is heavy with themes of childhood lost, the complicated bonds of friendship and the existence of giant, interstellar space turtles.
Fukunaga is an incredibly odd choice for the job, but that’s part of what makes him such an inspired one too. His debut film, Sin Nombre, is a fantastic gem about two young teens from Central America forced together by circumstance and on the run from murderous gang members. He followed that up with a beautiful (but ultimately underwhelming) adaptation of Jane Eyre. Fukunaga will be co-writing It with Chase Palmer into two films. Production is a ways off, but hopefully the pairing of director and source material stays true because a serious King adaptation from a talented filmmaker is a rarity us King fans rarely get to enjoy.