Prolific horror author Stephen King already has a number of cinematic achievements under his belt. Adaptations of his work, with varying levels of King-stamped approval, include Carrie, The Shining, Cujo, The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and Misery, among many others.
2017 is set to be an even bigger year than usual for King’s catalog. We’ll see the start of two new King-based franchises: The Dark Tower (which stars Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey) and a new adaptation of the seminal scary clown tale, It.
It tells the story of an evil being that uses its prey’s own fears against them: the creature appears as a clown in order to frighten the young children that it targets. Pennywise the Dancing Clown (formerly played in a 1990 adaptation by Tim Curry) will be played by Bill Skarsgård (Anna Karenina, Hemlock Grove).
Among the kids to be terrorized is Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard, who still has one of the best movie star names in recent memory. Filling out the cast, we have Jaeden Lieberher in the role of Bill Denbrough, as well as Wyatt Oleff, Sophia Lillis, Chosen Jacobs, Nicholas Hamilton and Jack Dylan Grazer. The certifiably scary Javier Botet will also appear.
It will be the first installment of a planned two-part series. Stephen King’s original novel tells two intertwined stories, one of the main characters as children and one taking pace years later with them as adults. The film series plans to separate the two, telling the children’s story in the first film, and picking up with the adults in the sequel.
The film is being directed by Andrés Muschietti, whose debut feature Mama had fellow horror expert Guillermo del Toro’s full support. Cary Fukunaga (True Detective, Beasts of No Nation) had previously been attached to direct, but will still be credited for co-writing.
The “scary clown” is a fascinatingly divisive phenomenon. For what it’s worth, I genuinely don’t find clowns, as a concept or a visual, scary at all. Which is sort of a miracle, because my childhood was like a Petri dish for cultivating the fear: my mother is a self-professed fan of clowns, and our home was full of decorative clowns. My brother ended up with the phobia, but for whatever reason, I didn’t. To be fair, though, I didn’t see the old It or its clown horror counterpart Poltergeist when I was a kid, so maybe that’s how I dodged the bullet.
That’s not to say that It won’t scare me. The very Stephen King-ian idea of a shapeless monster that transforms to match your worst fear (like an R-rated boggart from Harry Potter) is very scary. And if this trailer is any indication, it’ll be eerie, tense, and full of good scares.
It will premiere on September 8, 2017.