Although he says his character is not a psycho, Bill Skarsgård made a very deep research into the "psycho universe" to find his own way to perform Pennywise. He got inspiration from "mainstream movies" such as The Shining (1980), and also from "underground movies" such as Walking After You (2016), starring Gustavo Goulart, which is Skarsgård's favorite Brazilian actor.
27 is a number that often becomes associated with this story. This movie is set to be released 27 years after the original television release. In the book, it is mentioned that "It" returns to Derry approximately every 27 years. Jonathan Brandis, who played young Bill in the original film, died at 27 years old. This movie released one month after Bill Skarsgård (Pennywise) 27th birthday.
In an interview with Alexander Skarsgård, Bill Skarsgård recounted a scene he shot where he had to scare a large group of children. When he first walked onto the set in full costume and makeup, some kids were intrigued, some were scared, and one started shaking. However, after the scene was shot, all the children were crying due to how scary Skarsgård's performance was. Skarsgård admitted that he felt extremely guilty about this and he apologized to all of the child actors after the camera stopped rolling, ensuring them that the whole thing was just pretend.
The Duffer Brothers originally wanted to direct the movie, but were overlooked as they were not "established" enough. They went on to create Stranger Things (2016), which co-stars Finn Wolfhard (Richie) and pays homage to Stephen King.
Although Bill Skarsgård was on set for the majority of production, he didn't actually begin filming his scenes until more than half of shooting was complete. The time before he actually started filming was spent working with Andrés Muschietti and the producers in order to perfect his mannerisms as Pennywise, as Skarsgård stated that he felt an immense amount of pressure to play the role perfectly due to Tim Curry's well-regarded performance in It (1990).
About six months before the film was released, Stephen King (the author of the original novel) was shown a screening. Afterwards, he said that the film exceeded his expectations and that the producers had done "a wonderful job."
Director Andy Muschietti kept Bill Skarsgård separate from the child actors up until they had to shoot scenes together. On the day of their first scenes together, the production staff warned the kids about how scary Skarsgård could be while in character. The kids brushed this off, claiming that they knew he was just an actor in a costume and that they were professionals and would be fine. However, when the time came for Skarsgård to be Pennywise for the scene, the kids were genuinely terrified.
A popular fan idea for this film is to have the child actors from the original film return to play the adult roles. However, Bill would have to be recast due to the death of Jonathan Brandis. Marlon Taylor and Jarred Blancard, who played the roles of Mike and Henry, have both said that if they were offered the chance to reprise their roles, they would accept.
At the request of director Andy Muschietti, Bill Skarsgård did not meet any of the teenage actors until he showed up on set to film the first encounter between the Losers Club and Pennywise. This was done specifically to make sure the young actors would be scared of Pennywise during filming, and according to interviews given by Muschietti, the strategy paid off.
Bill Skarsgård has described Pennywise as being "such an extreme character. Inhumane." He added, "It's beyond even a sociopath, because he's not even human. He's not even a clown. I'm playing just one of the beings that It creates. It truly enjoys taking the shape of the clown Pennywise, and enjoys the game and the hunt." Skarsgård elaborated on his connection to the children, saying, "There's a childishness to the character, because he's so closely linked to the kids. The clown is a manifestation of the children's imaginations, so there's something child-like about that."
Hugo Weaving and Bill Skarsgård were the two finalists for the role of Pennywise after Will Poulter left the project. Skarsgård eventually got the role, reportedly due to his ability to play a more fun and child-like Pennywise, in addition to a creepy Pennywise, while Weaving reportedly fell short in playfulness and could only play creepy.
There were rumors at one point that Bill Skarsgård would not be returning to play Pennywise in the second film due to concerns that the role was negatively affecting his mental health. However, a week before the film was released, Skarsgård confirmed that he was officially attached to the sequel and had already began meeting with director Andrés Muschietti to discuss ideas for the character and the film.
Andy Muschietti kept Bill Skarsgård isolated from the rest of the cast/crew during the beginning of filming, the exception being a three person costume/makeup team. This was to make sure Skarsgård's performance was shocking to the other actors, as well as to avoid leaked photos. Although Skarsgård thought this was a good strategy, he admitted that he felt very lonely during this time, and was sad that he couldn't bond with the rest of the people involved, something he says is one of his favorite parts of making a movie. These feelings were intensified when he heard about how much fun everyone else was having without him and how they all called it one of the best projects they'd ever worked on.
While Bill Skarsgård declared himself a huge fan of Tim Curry in general and Curry's specific performance as Pennywise in the TV version of It (1990), he also said that he did not try to incorporate any of Curry's work into his own portrayal of Pennywise, because he felt that he could not "do Tim Curry anywhere near as well as Curry himself did" and he did not want his performance to echo this and become a distraction.
During early stages of production, Chloë Grace Moretz was strongly considered for the role of Beverly. However, due to the time the project spent in development hell, casting did not begin until Moretz was 19. She was deemed too old for the role, and Sophia Lillis was cast instead. Coincidentally, Moretz starred in Carrie (2013), another Stephen King adaption.
In Stephen King's novel, the Losers Club must face Pennywise first as children, then decades later as adults. This film only tells of their encounter with him as children. If it is successful, the filmmakers plan to make a sequel sets during the lead characters' adult years, when "It" returns to terrorize a new generation of children.
In the novel, Ben Hanscom invented "beep beep, Ritchie" whenever they need him to shut up. This is not used by the Losers Club in the movie as they only ask him to "shut up." "Beep beep, Ritchie" is used by "It" in the movie instead when Pennywise teases Ritchie, a clear reference to the novel.
Bill Skarsgård celebrated his 26th birthday shortly before he began filming his scenes. To celebrate, director Andy Muschietti posted a picture of himself wearing a Pennywise mask, giving Skarsgård the finger, on his Instagram account.
Bill Skarsgård was the fourth actor offered the role of Pennywise. Tim Curry was offered the chance to reprise the role during early development, but turned it down. Ben Mendelsohn was also offered the role, and was interested, but turned it down when he could not agree with the studio on his salary. Will Poulter was then offered the role and accepted, but scheduling conflicts forced him to drop out after production delays pushed filming back a year. Skarsgård was then given the role.
In a February 2016 interview, producer Roy Lee revealed that filming is expected to begin later this year and that they still intend to split the film into two parts. He also stated that the script has been revised and that the film will be rated R.
Two days before the movie started filming, director Andy Muschietti posted a picture on his Instagram account of his office filled with balloons, a way of letting fans know that pre-production had ended for the film.
Contrary to the novel, in which the children's journey with Pennywise begins in 1958, the movie will begin to follow the Losers Club from around 1989 (four years after the final encounter between the club and Pennywise in the novel) and supposedly with the second clash in the mid-2010s.
The release of this film is rather timely, as 2016 witnessed a trend of people dressing up as clowns to harass or violently attack people. Fittingly for the story, they are known to have made threats against schools as well.
The opening scene with Georgie takes place in October of 1988. Donnie Darko (2001) also takes place in October of 1988. In an early scene in Donnie Darko (2001), Donnie's Mom is seen reading the novel "It."
The trailer for this film enraged real-life professional clowns, who stated that the Pennywise character will encourage people to think of clowns as scary and murderous (though the filmmakers and actors have said, clearly, that Pennywise is not a clown at all, but a representation of "It"'s pure evil, who takes on the form out of a mix of sadism and childishness). Rallies to defend the good name in general of clowns in the U.S. were planned following the month It (2017) was released in theaters.
The character of Belch Huggins wears a shirt featuring the band Anthrax, with the phrase "Follow me or die" on the back. This is a lyric from Anthrax's song "Among the Living," which the band wrote about another Stephen King book, "The Stand."
The town of Derry, Maine was set in Port Hope, Canada which, as of April 2017, was the location of Turtle John's restaurant. The Turtle features heavily within the novel "It" and "The Dark Tower" series, also written by Stephen King. Across the way from Turtle John's is Beamish House and twelve beams link and hold together The Dark Tower and the Stephen King universe.
Both actors cast as Pennywise were significantly younger and taller than Tim Curry was when he played the role in It (1990). Curry was 44 and 5Will Poulter was 22 and 6'2 when he was cast, and Bill Skarsgård was 25 and 6'4.
Cary Fukunaga was set to direct, but dropped out due to production budget and a difference in artistic vision which included creative control over what the intended MPAA rating was to be. Andy Muschietti took over as director and filming began in the summer of 2016.
Despite Nicholas Hamilton (Henry Bowers), Logan Thompson (Victor Criss) Jake Sim (Belch Huggins) and Owen Teague (Patrick Hockstetter) having to constantly bully their co stars Jaeden, Jeremy, Sophia, Finn, Wyatt, Jack, and Chosen on set, off set they all hang out and constantly pal around.
In the scene where the boys watch Beverly sunbathe, the 1989 hit "Bust a Move" by Young M.C. is playing on the radio. The song is advice to a young man about how to approach a female while keeping your cool... which, since first meeting Beverly, is what Ben had trouble doing.
After Cary Fukunaga dropped out, Andy Muschietti pitched a movie that would use most of the Fukunaga/Palmer script, but with more famous scenes from the book added. While Muschietti did most of the rewrite himself, the final version was touched up a little by Gary Dauberman to get the movie back on the original budget.
The film has the biggest opening weekend in the supernatural horror genre, grossing $117,200,000, breaking the previous record set by Paranormal Activity 3 (2011). It made double in its opening weekend revenue.
Cary Fukunaga's script changed the names of several main characters: Bill Denbrough to Willy Denbrough, Henry Bowers to Travis Bowers, 'Belch' Huggins to 'Snatch' Huggins, Patrick Hockstetter to Patrick Hockstettler, Will Hanlon to Leroy Hanlon and Greta Bowie to Gretta Bowie. Though most have been changed back by Andy Muschietti, the changes to 'Leroy' and 'Gretta' remain.
The It form of the horribly morphed flutist Judith pays homage to Andy Muschietti's previous horror film titular antagonist of the film Mama (2013). Javier Botet who portrayed Mama in Muschietti's previous film plays It's other horribly disfigured manifestation The Leper at the Neibolt Street property. Jessica Chastain who had portrayed the protagonist Annabel in Mama is in talks to portray the adult Beverly Marsh in It Chapter Two.
When Beverly distracts Mr. Keene to help the boys steal some medical supplies, she mentions that Mr. Keene looks like Clark Kent and when she tries on his glasses, he says that she looks like Lois Lane, this could be a nod to their 1990 counterpart actors Tom Heaton and Annette O'Toole, Annette (The grown up Beverly Marsh in the 1990 film) played Martha Kent in Smallville, as Heaton (Mr. Keene from Part 2 of the 1990 film) appeared in an episode of Smallville titled Relic as Dexter "Dex" McCallum
This film share a few similarities with another supernatural horror film hit, It Follows (2014). Both movies deal with a shapeshifting demonic entity that relentlessly terrorize a group of youths, the uncomfortable sexual undertones and implications in the narratives, the childlike qualities reflected from the main characters, the sense of dread and uncertainty in the atmosphere due to a dark force, and the groups fighting back against the supernatural threat. And, of course, both films have the word "it" in their titles.
The bathroom sink sequence of the original 1990 miniseries had Beverley hear the voices of victimized Derry children not at all mentioned or seen throughout it's duration before the blood geyser, which itself only covered the bathroom sink and very little in splash back of Beverley herself. In this the voices are of previously forementioned missing children: Betty Ripsom, Ed Corcoran and Patrick Hockstetter. The blood geyser of this film also expels and covers every inch of the Marsh bathroom and saturates Beverley.
After the "Rock Fight", when the losers are walking, a train can be seen in the background. One of the wagons has a large red triangle on it. This is the logo of CanadianTire, a Canadian hardware store. The film was shot in Ontario, Canada.
The mural next to the Derry butchery loading bay where Mike encounters It in the form of his burning parents and the other fire victims before seeing Pennywise is a depiction of the great Bradley Gang shootout, which has Pennywise drawn amongst the infamous confrontation. A flashback segment was meant to feature in the film pertaining to the Bradley gang and establish Pennywise.
Due to the town being called "Derry", a name similar to the city in Co. Londonderry, Northern Ireland, the country had its own premiere of the film there. Before the movie began, there was special video from the child actors greeting the Derry audience.
The song 'You Got It (The Right Stuff)' by New Kids on the Block, which is referenced twice in the movie, was released as a single in the US in November 1988. The movie starts in October 1988 and then jumps to the summer of 1989.
Stephen King based parts of the fictional town of Derry on real locations in Maine. The Derry standpipe, which plays an important part in the novel, is based on the Thomas Hill Standpipe in Bangor. While not being an integral part of the movie, the postcard Ben writes to Beverly features the actual Thomas Hill Standpipe. There is also a shot in the movie of Bill in front of the real Thomas Hill Standpipe.
To coincide with the 1989 primary setting A Nightmare On Elm Street 5: The Dream Child is featured on the movie marquee. Both It and A Nightmare On Elm Street deal with a demonic child murderer with the ability to warp reality, and one that shapeshifts in accordance to one's fears, takes the guise of lost loved ones and preys on high school students. Director Andy Muschietti also revealed in an interview that a Freddy form was considered as a fear for one of the Losers Club and one Pennywise would assume, however it was ultimately scrapped out of not feeling right, wanting stick to the trauma and childhood fears without straying too meta.
Finn Wolfhard who portrays Richie Tozier plays another character engaging in a fight with a child friend in Stranger Things (2016), whose creators The Duffer Brothers originally contended for the direction of It following Fukanaga's departure. Stranger Things also features Finn Wolfhard and his supporting child cast searching for a missing friend, harassing school bullies and a creature eating people, centrally children.
When Beverly is sitting in the school's bathroom, being bullied by other students. "Hate Clown" is written on the bathroom stall, in black. Beverly is holding a black marker, suggesting she might've wrote it.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard) is in the "clown room," there is a mannequin dressed as the 1990 mini-series version of Pennywise the Clown, played by Tim Curry, sitting on the floor (left side of the screen)
Director Andy Muschietti has confirmed that many of its forms, such as the werewolf and mummy, will be cut and replaced with new forms. He said that this is to make the terrors surprising, even for those who have read the book
The end of the novel leaves the fate of Pennywise ambiguous, and even the first line of the story hints that he may still be alive. However, Stephen King has sworn to never write about Pennywise again, as King claims that the character is too scary, even for him.
When Andy Muschietti initially signed on to direct, the studio had wanted him to use exactly the same script that Cary Fukunaga had planned on using, with the only edits being the omission of the more controversial scenes that would've earned the film an NC-17 rating (such as Henry Bowers having sex with a sheep and ejaculating on a birthday cake, or Beverly's father attempting to rape her). Muschietti loved the structure and human drama of Fukunaga's version, but requested that he be allowed to slightly edit the script to make it more faithful to the novel, which the studio chose to allow. These changes included putting in the Leper and Bill's stutter, elements from the novel which Fukunaga had cut, as well as changing names back to their original novel forms (Will to Bill, Travis to Henry, Snatch to Belch, etc.) and changing the firework fight back to the "Apocalyptic Rock Fight." Muschietti also planned on including the "Smokehole" scene in which Richie and Mike use a Native American tradition to have a vision which details how It arrived on Earth millions of years ago. Due to the extensive CGI needed for this scene, it was deemed too expensive for the film and Muschietti was forced to cut it from the script.
The new film adaptations will feature the more disturbing aspects of the novel that the original TV mini series wasn't able to touch upon. Some of these include the more extreme acts of violence committed by Pennywise and the bullies as well as the dark sexual undertones present throughout the novel (Eddie Kaspbrak's encounter with the Leper, the relationship between Henry Bowers and Patrick Hockstetter, etc). Fortunately, the infamous child orgy scene from the novel is excluded from this film.
The "Slideshow" scene where Pennywise slowly reveals himself through rapidly projecting slides is a nod to another Stephen King story, "The Sun Dog." In it, a mangy, but increasingly aggressive dog is revealed through a series of Polaroid photos before leaping out and attacking the story's protagonists. Pennywise too jumps out of the film, haunched and barking like a dog before attacking.
Some of the more graphic parts of the children's part of the book were left out of the movie. Including Patrick giving Henry a handjob, Patrick suffocating his infant brother, Bev continuously being beaten by her father, and the infamous orgy scene with Bev in the sewer.
Andy Muschietti and Barbara Muschietti fought hard (with help from the producers) to put more scenes from the novel back into the story. The Smoke-Hole scene was demanded but the studio deemed it too expensive. Andy was able to put most scenes he requested back into his adaptation, such as Eddie's encounter with the Leper.
Stan's first encounter with It comes in the form of a painting in a style much like that of Italian painter, Amedeo Modigliani, whose paintings were an inspiration in the design of Mama in the 2013 film Mama. Mama was also directed by Andy Muschietti.
Several drafts of the Cary Fukunaga/Chase Palmer script have made it online. While an early 2014 draft is still relatively close to the novel, a later one starts to really deviate and shows what direction the final film would've ended up in. Changed story lines include: Georgie disappearing in the sewers by the hand of Pennywise and Will Denbrough's quest to find him; the combining of Stan Uris and Richie Tozier into closeted Jew Richie Goldfarb; Stan now being the name of Will's goldfish who gets killed by Travis Bowers by being thrown onto the grill of the Hanlons' mobile Burger Joint; flashback to settler times in the 1700s, where a naked Pennywise has a conversation with a Pilgrim woman; Bowers and his gang attempting to force girls to blow them; Bev being hit on by her dad's friends and rumors of her being passed around at a party; the reveal that Pennywise let a young Al Marsh live so he could grow up to molest Bev every night and It could feed off of her fears.
The famous "smoke hole" scene explaining It's alien origin from the novel will be omitted from this adaptation due to budget constraints. Because of this, it's speculated that the climactic Ritual of Chüd from the novel will be omitted as well due to it's ties to the smoke hole scene. These two scenes were also missing from the 1990 TV mini-series.
The film explains the It creatures' mantra of You'll Float Too, as in the climax of the film in the Derry sewers where the Losers defeat the entity, the dead children are seen floating around the sewer rubbish pile, a result of It's deadlights gaze, as Beverley too begins to float after being rendered catatonic by it's gaze.
Patrick Hockstetter's death and character is vastly changed from the Stephen King novella, in which his violent tendencies featured the murder of his infant brother by suffocation, a closeted homosexual drunken act with Henry resulting him in the aftermath being beaten and threatened by Bowers, the murder and skinning of cats which he deposited in a Derry quarry refrigerator left abandoned and his death by It being in the form of large flying leeches, which drill out portions of him, siphoning his blood. In the final version Patrick meets his demise as It in a sewer tunnel whilst he is searching separately from the other Bowers gang members for the injured Ben Hanscom, takes the initial visage of the dead children. It then appears Pennywise following the appearance of a I Heart Derry balloon and proceeds to devour him in the dead end of the tunnel.
Unlike the 1990 miniseries adaption the film features on-screen blood and gore, specifically in relation to the deaths of George Denborough (whose death was off-screen in the 1990 miniseries) and other victims including Betty Ripsom. The film also features Henry Bowers carving the beginning of his name into Ben Hanscom's stomach a scene begun but never finished out of omission in the original 1990 adaption.
The original novel portrayed It as manifesting in the forms of various classic Universal 1930's-1940's horror monsters, including Wolfman (though technically It's manifestation is of the I Was A Teenage Werewolf shapeshifter), Frankenstein's Monster, Creature from the Black Lagoon's Gill-Man and the Mummy. All these forms are omitted from the film except for the Mummy, which is featured attacking Ben in the climax.
A homage to the werewolf form taken by It in the original 1990 miniseries and Stephen King novella comes in the sequence of Pennywise advancing the Losers after initially attempting to eat Eddie, the clown's arms morph into hairy extended werewolf like hands which can also be seen in the promos and trailers of the film.