Most film fans who follow development news closely keep a running list of near-miss movies — projects like Edgar Wright’s Ant-Man and Darren Aronofsky’s The Wolverine — that fell apart in the 11th hour. A few months ago, Cary Fukunaga’s IT — a two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s novel that Fukunaga co-wrote and was set to direct — became another member in the Hall of Fame of What Might Have Been.
Fukunaga, who directed True Detective into the cultural phenomenon it became during its first season (and wasn’t involved in the filmmaking process for the critically lambasted season 2), left the New Line project in May after spending three years developing the script with co-writer Chase Palmer. The first report of Fukunaga’s departure, which came from TheWrap just weeks before production was set to begin, mentioned many of the usual suspects for sudden movie break-ups: budgetary clashes and differences of opinion over casting. (Before the director left, the pivotal role of Pennywise went to the surprisingly young Will Poulter, who is 22 and a marked change of direction from the other rumored contender for the part, 46 year-old Ben Mendelsohn.)
Speaking with EW about the release of his upcoming film Beasts of No Nation for our Fall Movie Preview, Fukunaga explains the situation with a kind of disappointed acceptance and an understanding that this kind of thing happens. “It’s never easy,” he says. “Chase [Palmer] and I had been working on that script for probably three years. There was a lot of our childhood and our experience in it.”
The reason for the split, in his view, can be easily boiled down to disagreement. “Ultimately, we and New Line have to agree on the kind of movie we want to make, and we just wanted to make different movies,” Fukunaga says. “It’s like a relationship: you can try to make the other person who you want them to be, but it’s impossible really to change. You just have to work.”
But even with Fukunaga’s departure, IT is still moving forward at New Line. The director behind the Guillermo Del Toro-produced Mama, Andy Muschietti, is set to take over, reportedly keeping the two-part format and hiring a new writer to tailor the script to him. EW reached out to New Line for this story, but the company had no comment.
Fukunaga’s next film, Beasts of No Nation starring Idris Elba, is currently slated for a simultaneous theatrical and Netflix release on Oct. 16.
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