Pennywise is back.
The highly anticipated horror sequel It: Chapter Two unveiled its first look at CinemaCon on Tuesday. A follow-up to 2017’s box office smash based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, the sequel follows “The Losers Club” 27 years after the events of the first film.
Set in the present day, the club reunites in accordance with their blood oath to fight the evil clown Pennywise a second time. Older versions of the kids from the 1980s-set first film will be portrayed by the likes of James McAvoy and Jessica Chastain in this sequel, though the younger versions will also appear in memory and flashback sequences.
Returning director Andy Muschietti kicked off the presentation by sauntering out on stage with his face hidden behind a familiar pyramid of red balloons. After apologizing for not being Bill Skarsgard (who returns as the nightmarish Pennywise), Muschietti then welcomed the entire Losers Club to the stage, both the kids and their adult counterparts: Isaiah Mustafa and Chosen Jacobs as Mike Hanlon, Jay Ryan and Jeremy Ray Taylor as Ben Hanscom, Andy Bean and Wyatt Oleff as Stan Uris, James Ransone and Jack Dylan Grazer as Eddie Kaspbrak, Chastain and Sophia Lillis as Beverly Marsh, and Bill Hader and Finn Wolfhard as Richie Tozier.
The only one missing was Jaeden Martell, who plays the younger version of Bill Denbrough. McAvoy, who plays the elder Bill, joked about Martell’s absence, telling the audience, “He’s too talented and he threatens me, so I made him disappear.”
Wolfhard (Stranger Things) told the crowd that although he didn’t initially expect a sequel to be made, he still lobbied for Hader to play the adult Richie. Hader joked that it was Wolfhard’s recommendation that landed him the gig.
“I was like, well, Richie’s funny to himself,” Wolfhard told the audience.
“Yeah, Richie thinks he’s funny,” Hader replied. “It’s like, who’s an a–hole who thinks he’s funny? Who laughs at his own jokes a lot?”
The first footage shown at CinemaCon focuses on an adult Beverly Marsh, who returns to her old home in Derry. She knocks on the door and is greeted by a kind-looking elderly lady named Mrs. Kersh (a name book readers will remember). Mrs. Kersh informs Beveryl that her father has passed away, but she is still welcome to look around.
Beverly goes through the home, and the lady asks if it’s as she remembered it. “Cleaner,” Beverly replies, as she finds the old postcard Ben gave her all those years ago, telling her, “Your hair is like winter fire.” While Beverly reminisces, behind her, a figure is seen being dragged into a room.
As Beverly drinks tea with the elderly lady, she notices something isn’t quite right with her old — there are flies everywhere and there’s something unsettling about the owner.
“You know what they say about Derry — no one who dies here ever really dies,” the lady says, before freezing in a glazed smile. Beverly notices photos of the lady’s family on the walls, all of which look about a century old, with her father bearing a very close resemblance to the demented smile of a certain red-haired supernatural clown that tormented the Losers as kids.
Things quickly go awry as the old lady strips naked and comes for Beverly, saying, “I was always a daddy’s girl. Are you a daddy’s girl, Beverly?”
The rest of the footage follows the now-adult Losers as they return to Derry, with flashback scenes of them as kids. (There’s also a haunting shot of the entire adult Losers Club seeing their child reflections in a mirrored store window.) But Pennywise’s influence is everywhere, as Derry devolves into chaos and red balloons keep popping up. The final shot is of Pennywise himself, looking exactly the same as he did all those years ago and addressing the camera with a sinister “hello.”
While the footage was brief, the overarching sense was that the first look at the sequel lived up to its frightening predecessor, with audience social media reactions describing it as “bloody” and “scary.” See below for a series of reactions to the footage.
The film debuts Sept. 6.
Additional reporting by Devan Coggan and Piya Sinha-Roy.