Warner Bros Wants An “Inoffensive” Version Of Stephen King’s IT

This is why Cary Fukunaga quit.

Cary Fukunaga has opened the floodgates in detailing why he left Warner Bros' big screen adaptation of Stephen King's It, and it will fill fans' hearts with dread. He and Warner Bros couldn't see eye to eye on many things, including stuff like having the characters be characters, giving Pennywise some weight and making the film as creepy and weird as King's novel. In Fukunaga's words, WB wants the movie to be... 'inoffensive.' When the story ends with a bunch of 12 year olds running a train on their one female friend you're in a bad place if 'inoffensive' is your end goal.

“I was trying to make an unconventional horror film,” Fukunaga told Variety. “It didn’t fit into the algorithm of what they knew they could spend and make money  back on based on not offending their standard genre audience. Our budget was perfectly fine. We were always hovering at the $32 million mark, which was their budget. It was the creative that we were really battling. It was two movies. They didn’t care about that. In the first movie, what I was trying to do was an elevated horror film with actual characters. They didn’t want any characters. They wanted archetypes and scares. I wrote the script. They wanted me to make a much more inoffensive, conventional script. But I don’t think you can do proper Stephen King and make it inoffensive.”

Let's parse this first quote. To be very honest, it seems plausible that Warner Bros saw what Fukunaga was coming up with and thought it was... boring. Whenever anyone uses the phrase 'elevated' in relation to a genre movie what they always mean - ALWAYS - is 'not scary.' Is it possible that Fukunaga's script for the first movie was sort of a slow burn that didn't pay off in the actual film itself?

It's the 'inoffensive' stuff that definitely gets to me, though. This is a story about child murders, after all. Is WB going to tone all of that down?

As for whether the first movie was a slow burn to nowhere, Fukunaga says that wasn't the case. It paid off, he says: 

“The main difference was making Pennywise more than just the clown,” said Fukunaga.“After 30 years of villains that could read the emotional minds of characters and scare them, trying to find really sadistic and intelligent ways he scares children, and also the children had real lives prior to being scared. And all that character work takes time. It’s a slow build, but it’s worth it, especially by the second film. But definitely even in the first film, it pays off. It was being rejected. Every little thing was being rejected and asked for changes. Our conversations weren’t dramatic. It was just quietly acrimonious. We didn’t want to make the same movie. We’d already spent millions on pre-production. I certainly did not want to make a movie where I was being micro-managed all the way through production, so I couldn’t be free to actually make something good for them. I never desire to screw something up. I desire to make something as good as possible.”

WB has now moved on to Mama director Andy Muschetti, and they've scrapped Fukunaga's script (he's very happy about that: "Chase (Palmer) and I both put our childhood in that story. So our biggest fear was they were going to take our script and bastardize it. So I’m actually thankful that they are going to rewrite the script. I wouldn’t want them to stealing our childhood memories and using that.") and are starting over. I am curious what Fukunaga's movie would have been like, but this one last quote makes me think perhaps we would have been complaining about it when it finally came out: 

I’m not sure if the fans would have liked what I would had done. I was honoring King’s spirit of it, but I needed to update it.