The release of Andy Muschietti‘s highly-anticipated IT CHAPTER TWO just happened this weekend. The film, which is a follow-up to the highly successful IT, finds the Losers’ Club 27 years later being drawn back to Derry once evidence of Pennywise’s return is uncovered. The stakes are high and all are wondering if the Losers’ Club will survive what will be their final encounter with the murderous clown-like entity. Recently, we got to attend a press conference for IT CHAPTER TWO where writer Gary Dauberman spoke about what it was like to tackle writing the adult Losers and what challenges he had to tackle in order to adapt what is arguably Stephen King’s most ambitious novel ever.
In tackling the ambitious project of adapting the second half of Stephen King’s IT, there were a lot of things to consider in terms of what was most important. No one can deny that the draw of the original novel and the 2017 smash-success IT was the characters that made up the Losers’ Club. Making sure getting the dynamic right between the characters – both young versions and older versions – was a huge issue. But, as was revealed by Dauberman, making sure all characters got equal amounts of time onscreen was arguably one of the most difficult parts of developing the script: “The hardest thing is really managing and making sure every character gets its due. I mean, here’s seven of them and you want to make sure no one really gets the short shrift, and that was really important ’cause there is only so much real estate.”
However, one obstacle that Dauberman had to keep in mind was how much focusing on the characters might contribute to an extremely lengthy film. For any audience member, movies that feel long are legitimately the worst. So, the overall length of the film was a concern for Dauberman. Considering the novel was over 1000 pages and that there is just the sheer amount of content within those pages, it was a monumental task. To make the film flow to a point where it didn’t feel as long as it actually is was at the forefront of everyone’s minds. However, as Dauberman explained, the team had a solution in figuring out how to tackle that task: “There [were] concerns about the length, but we always had the model; if it feels long, then it is long. And we watched it and we never felt like when it started to not feel long, it’s not, you know. I’ve watched a lot of hour and a half movies that feel like four hours.” In the end, a lot of how they were able to cut down the length was figuring out what to edit and what to change in order to make IT CHAPTER TWO flow sufficiently.
One of the ways that they did this was in reducing the roles of some characters to make way for expansion of other characters. For example, Beverly’s husband and the character Audra have a much more substantial role in the original novel. However, Dauberman felt that the cutting down of their roles for IT CHAPTER TWO was one of the easier decisions he had to make to keep the movie flowing, “They play a larger role in the book but to be frank, I don’t miss them in the movie. You know, I think it’s great in the book but that was just, it felt like easy cuts to be made just from a writing standpoint.” In cutting the roles down to brief, quick scenes, Dauberman was able to spend more time expanding the characters in the Losers’ Club the way he wanted to.
The final elephant in the room was how Dauberman was going to tackle certain metaphysical elements onto the big screen. The most important (and obvious) metaphysical elements that would need to be incorporated into the film would be the Dead Lights, Pennywise’s final form, and the infamous and kind of weird Ritual of Chüd. Figuring out how to make these elements work in a grounded fashion while still highlighting the fantasmical elements of their metaphysical nature, Dauberman explained, was very much at the forefront of his mind: “It was, how do we take these big, big ideas that necessarily aren’t as cinematic as a clown, and distill it down into something that’s going to look fantastic and horrifying on the screen.” Luckily, for Dauberman, he had an incredible director to work with that relished the prospect of adapting the Lovecraftian nature of Stephen King‘s world onto the big screen. Dauberman elaborated, “[Andy Muschietti], you know, he loves the surreal, he loves all. So he had a lot of great ideas coming into it about how, ‘Hey, here’s how we can approach this.'” The process of bringing these elements to life was made more realistically possible with the help of Muschietti and definitely helped alleviate the visual challenge of developing these elements in the script.
Knowing how many challenges writer Gary Dauberman had to tackle in order to bring the final product of IT CHAPTER TWO onscreen gave us a new respect for his work. He managed to adapt the film so that it allowed for equal screen time for all of the members of the Losers’ Club while also finding a way to ground the metaphysical, abstract elements of the novel in a reality that makes sense for the viewer. For that alone, we salute him.
IT CHAPTER TWO is now floating in theaters. Want more IT CHAPTER TWO? Check out our review here.