True Detective director Cary Fukunaga has decided to part ways with the planned two-film adaptation of Stephen King‘s It. Fukunaga announced at a Tribeca Film Festival panel in April that he would begin shooting the big screen version of It this summer, but the Wrap now reports that the director abruptly departed the film after clashing with New Line over the film’s budget and shooting locations.
Following news of Fukunaga’s exit, Stephen King tweeted, “The remake of It may be dead – or undead – but we’ll always have Tim Curry. He’s still floating down in the sewers of Derry,” referring to the 1990 television miniseries about the novel.
Fukunaga, who penned the It scripts with Chase Palmer, originally planned on shooting two films to tell the story of the shape-shifting, child-killing Pennywise the Clown. Divided up like King’s 1986 horror novel, the first of the two It films would detail the main characters run in with Pennywise as children; the second film would have those same characters returning to Derry, Maine to confront the clown as adults.
Recently, the production announced that We’re the Millers star Will Poulter would portray Pennywise, but that casting decision – as well as the future of the whole production – is now in flux following Fukunaga’s departure. According to the Wrap, after It shifted from Warner Bros. to New Line, the production company demanded additional budget cuts, including moving the shoot out of New York to somewhere less expensive. The Hollywood Reporter writes that the film was set to begin shooting in three weeks.
New Line’s weak opening weekend for their Poltergeist reboot – which similarly featured a terrifying clown – as well as Poulter’s relative obscurity in Hollywood also contributed to apprehension over the project. The adaptation is now in indefinite hiatus.
In April, Fukunaga signed up to direct a new drama penned by the Brokeback Mountain screenwriters. The film tells the true story of Joe Bell and his son Jaden, the latter a 15-year-old openly gay Oregon high school student who committed suicide after being bullied because of his sexuality. A devastated Joe Bell then embarked on a cross-country walking tour to promote awareness about the consequences of prejudice, but that journey too ends tragically.
It becomes the latest King adaptation to stall on its way to the big screen. The author’s The Dark Tower series has gestated in Hollywood for years before Sony Pictures and Media Rights Capital revived the project in April for a planned film and television series.