'It' sequel to explore book's 'cosmic dimension,' and return to 1989, says director (exclusive)

Tom Butler
Senior Editor
Pennywise is played by Swedish actor Bill Skarsgård (Warner Bros.)

Andy Muschietti, the director of the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It  (in cinemas Sept. 8), has given Yahoo Movies an exclusive update on the film’s sequel, the as-yet-untitled It: Chapter 2.

Speaking to Yahoo from Los Angeles, Muschietti told us the present-day sequel would explore the “transdimensional” element of King’s source novel that the first film deftly side-steps. He also explained why they couldn’t make the novel’s trippy finale work this time around.

“I really wanted to focus on the emotional journey of the group of kids,” Mama director Muschietti told Yahoo Movies.

“Getting in to that other dimension — the other side — was something that we could introduce in the second part. In the book the perspective of the writing… is always with the Losers, so everything they know about Pennywise is very speculative and shrouded in absurdity, so I wanted to respect that mystery feeling of not knowing what’s on the other side.”

For the uninitiated, the original 1986 novel (and the 1990 TV miniseries) sees Bill Denborough (Jaeden Lieberher) and the Losers Club first confronting Pennywise as kids through the “Ritual of Chüd.” The gang enter another dimension and Pennywise is revealed to be a huge otherworldly spider-creature located in a strange realm known as the “deadlights.”

Carey Fukunaga’s original script (the True Detective Season 1 director was originally attached) is said to have been a more direct adaptation of the source material with a similar final act featuring a VFX-heavy “inter-dimensional portal”.

Mama director Andy Muschietti on set outside the house on Neibolt street where the Losers Club track down Pennywise. The the background stands Jaeden Lieberher, who plays Stuttering Bill. (Warner Bros.)

Muschietti’s It has a much more grounded final confrontation with Pennywise that only hints at the otherworldliness of the shapeshifting antagonist. The 1990 TV miniseries tried — and fell short — of honouring Stephen King’s vision on its limited budget, so it sounds like Muschietti wants to ensure the financial success of the first film before throwing money at a VFX-heavy stand off in the second film.

“I also wanted to leave something for the second half, so I didn’t want to get in trouble with that — going into the macroverse or that transdimensional stuff — and keep it grounded, from the point of view of the kids,” he adds.

The Losers Club in Pennywise’s lair. (Warner Bros.)

“There’s another movie to expand into that. Also, there’s a physical truth that it’s a movie that has a budget. And I didn’t want to get into a depiction of a realm that f***s up our budget, the creation of a world that will basically suck up half of our budget, and would have to sacrifice a lot of things.

“So basically it’s a balancing act, but it’s also intricately connected with the content, which is staying true to the emotional aspect of the book.”

Pennywise’s true form is revealed in the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation of It (Warner Bros. Television)

Muschietti also reaffirmed his intention for the sequel to return to the timeline of the first film alongside its present day-set storyline, which suggests the impressive young cast (including Stranger Things star Finn Wolfhard) will return for Chapter 2.

“There will be a dialogue between the two timelines,” he explained, “which is something that I love from the book. So it’s not just the [Losers’ Club as] adults, we’re going to come back to 1989.”

It arrives in cinemas Sept. 8. Come back next week for more revelations from our interview with Andy Muschietti.

Watch: The young stars of It cast the adult versions of their characters for the sequel:

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