'IT: Chapter Two' filmmakers tease plans for extended cut and awards campaign (exclusive)

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
BILL SKARSGÅRD as Pennywise in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller "IT CHAPTER TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

There’s been a lot of chatter online about the runtime of IT: Chapter Two, the sequel to 2017’s horror smash IT.

Where most horror films are generally around 90 minutes long, IT: Chapter Two clocks in at 169 minutes. It’s a huge movie with epic scope, but one that keeps you gripped every second of its near three hour span.

It’s the concluding part of a story that spans 27 years for its characters - the gang of friends who call themselves the Losers Club - and millennia for their antagonist Pennywise, the evil presence that haunts their hometown of Derry. In our minds an epic story deserves an epic conclusion (hello Return of the King) and this delivers one in spades, with very few scenes feeling superfluous to the story.

A completely faithful adaptation of Stephen King’s massive 1,100 page 1986 novel of the same name could have been even longer, and Andy Muschietti and Barbara Muschietti - the filmmaking couple who directed and produced the film respectively - say an extended version is very much on the cards.

Read more: Clown-only IT screenings planned

Whether it will take the form of a cinematic re-release, an extended edition Blu-ray release, or a supercut of both films together with new footage as Andy Muschietti has previously teased, is unclear, but both insist: it’s happening.

“In one shape or the other, we definitely will [see an extended version of IT: Chapter Two],” Barbara Muschietti tells Yahoo Movies UK.

“We just don't know what the shape is yet. It's not only about [us] desiring it, but we have a lot of pretty surreal stuff to untangle on that. So we'll see.’

One thing we know for certain is that Maturin - Pennywise’s cosmic space turtle foe who helps the Losers in the book - will make an appearance in the extended cut.

Read on to find out how the turtle fits in, learn about their plan to get the film into awards consideration, and how close to reality those The Flash rumours really are.

Yahoo Movies UK: I was amazed by how ambitious this film is - were you given fairly free rein by the studio to deliver your vision?

Andy Muschietti: No. It's as big as the story deserves. We were given the resources to make justice to it. So I had a bigger canvas to tell the story on. And of course, they give me a big canvas, and I want a bigger one.

Director Andy Muschietti (L) and producer Barbara Muschietti attend the "IT Chapter Two" European Premiere. (Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)

So it doesn't matter how much bigger the budget is, you're always reaching the limit [of it]. But I'm very happy with the result and the size and the scale of the movie. I think it really makes justice to the feel and the epicness the story.

Barbara Muschietti: It's not free rein anymore. No one gets free rein. You get support.

I was surprised faithful it was to Stephen King’s book. How did you decide what you wouldn’t include from the book and why it didn’t make the cut?

Andy Muschietti: When you understand that making a film adapted on a book is translating the story into a different language - where you need actually less elements - in the case of IT, it’s a huge story: much looser, interrupted constantly by interludes and flashbacks and much more subplots.

Read more: Man photoshops Pennywise into sister’s photos

Making a film implies the need to make a great experience for viewers, right? So you have to tighten everything. So in the moment you understand that, it's easier to remove the things that are not useful for that purpose.

JAMES RANSONE as Eddie Kaspbrak, JESSICA CHASTAIN as Beverly Marsh, JAMES McAVOY as Bill Denbrough, BILL HADER as Richie Tozier, JAY RYAN as Ben Hascomb and ISAIAH MUSTAFA as Mike Hanlon in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller "IT CHAPTER TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

It's almost as if you have to grab one idea - the most important idea - and make that your main plot. So that's very easy to identify: The journey of Losers and how they manage to confront and kill Pennywise is something that when you're translating into film language - with everything that implies - which is making everything consequential, cranking up the tension exponentially, and basically making a big exciting film experience: things start to fall out.

All the ideas that are departures from the book are ideas that come with a very strict necessity of fitting in that system.

If someone ever compares the movie to the book that is pretty clear. Everything happens for a reason. Everything happens almost in real time. And there's a consequentiality that doesn't necessarily happen in the book that’s digressing from this one.

Did you work closely with Stephen King in terms of the adaptation? Did he have any input?

Andy Muschietti: No I didn’t. Stephen didn’t work on the adaptation. We showed him one of the first drafts just to see what he thought. And he was very respectful. And he said ‘Please don't take this as any kind of mandate and just going to you a very short list of scenes that I would like to see.’

BILL HADER (l-standing), director ANDY MUSCHIETTI (center) and director of photography Checcco Varese (r-standing) on the set of New Line Cinema’s horror thriller "IT CHAPTER TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

And one of them was Paul Bunyan. And his response was almost like a fan. You know? Like a fan that had good memories of the story that, in his case, he wrote. Most people read it, but he wrote it, but he didn’t want to intervene or make the adaptation something that he wanted to control at all.

So that's great, because it shows a lot of trust and confidence. Apart from the fact that he understands that adaptations are a different creature, that don't necessarily have to pay homage to the original work.

Of course, when the movie is better, It's better than when it's bad.

I was surprised to see the concept of the Ritual of Chüd make it through. But was Maturin the space turtle ever in the story too?

Andy Muschietti: For me going to the other side, going to the macroverse and actually explaining what's on the other side, and what the turtle actually is, has the risk of turning this movie into a fantasy movie.

Andy Muschietti, far right, director of "It Chapter Two," poses with James McAvoy, Jay Ryan, Bill Hader, James Ransone, Andy Bean, Isaiah Mustafa and Jessica Chastain. (Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

And as you can see, in both movies, I like to keep the perspective very human. The more you go to the other side, the less of a human drama it is. And of course, there's another side, there's a supernatural entity, an interdimensional side, and the existence of the turtle also, but I wanted to keep it behind a veil of mystery.

Because the moment you reveal that other side it just loses its magic, in a way.

So there is still scenes with the turtle. He was there.

I think I spotted it in the school.

Barbara Muschietti: But there's also a scene that we have to cut which stars the turtle.

Andy Muschietti: But it’s not the turtle in space. It's sort of a continuation of a scene that we've seen in Chapter One. Where the kids are swimming, and one of them is like, ‘What is that?’ ‘It’s a turtle.’

And they all disappear. And you don't know what happens there. But in the longer version of Chapter Two, that you’ll probably see, you're going to revisit that scene. The outcome of that scene.

So will we see an extended version of IT: Chapter Two, you think?

(Center left-r) Producer BARBARA MUSCHIETTI and JAMES McAVOY on the set of New Line Cinema’s horror thriller "IT CHAPTER TWO,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

Barbara Muschietti: Yeah. In one shape or the other, we definitely will. We just don't know what the shape is yet, because there's a lot of... It's not only about desiring it, but we have a lot of pretty surreal stuff to untangle on that. So we'll see.

You've talked about The Flash being your next movie, potentially...

Andy Muschietti: Pick another question.

The Flash is not something that is confirmed at all. I know that this thing is buzzing around, but we're still talking about it. So it's a little too soon to talk about that.

Read more: Clowns complain about IT success

Let's talk about Bill Skarsgård instead. He’s sensational as Pennywise in this film. I really hope he gets some sort of recognition for this.

Both: Us too.

Why do you think horror generally gets overlooked during awards season?

Bill Skarsgard attends the premiere for “IT Chapter Two” in Los Angeles, California, U.S., August 26, 2019. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Andy Muschietti: It's not that it’s overlooked. I think that horror has a bad name, because a lot of horror movies are made for exploitative reasons. And it's really one of the genres that is more done for the wrong reasons - commercial - because it's sensationalist and has a captive audience and they know that it is going to work [commercially].

But there's a lot of elevated expressions of the genre that people don't necessarily recognise.

A lot of people are just scared to see movies, whether they are like, elevated or not.

Barbara Muschietti: Academy members too.

Read more: Tilda Swinton considered for Pennywise

Andy Muschietti: So our movie IT was labelled as a horror movie. And that definitely prevented a lot of people from watching it. But there's a lot of things in the first movie that are actually… it's a story, it's a movie that has a heart and a soul. And it has a human drama in it that’s as valid as any other movie about coming of age.

But people need some education,

Barbara Muschietti: We are though this time around with the studio doing SAG screenings and BAFTA screenings. Because we believe very much that the film and the performances in the film need to be considered for recognition.

IT: Chapter Two, starring James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, Isaiah Mustafa, Jay Ryan, James Ransone, and Andy Bean floats into cinemas on 6 September. Watch a new promo below.