When adapting a novel into a feature film, some logistic changes and stylistic modifications from the filmmaker come into play, with the adaptation hoping to find a balance between giving audiences a new experience while honoring the source material. In the case of the changes director Andy Muschietti made to Stephen King's IT for this year's adaptation, the author only asked for a character's fate to be made more clear.
Muschietti spoke to Deadline about the film and whether or not King had suggestions about it, with the director revealing, "You know what? He didn't say anything except for when [an unsavory character] is bashed over the head and goes to the ground. [Stephen] said, 'I'm not sure if he's dead or alive,' and that's all he said. We were still working on the cut in sound editing, so we basically added a groan."
This is only a small tweak to the film, but the filmmaker has been quite vocal about one very memorable sequence of the story being cut from the film entirely.
The film focuses on the Losers' Club, a group of kids who band together to take on the evil entity referred to as "It," which often takes the form of Pennywise the clown. At one point in the novel, the Losers' Club, which consists of six boys and one girl, all agree that the way to solidify their bond with one another and transition into adulthood is to take turns having sex with the sole female.
Of removing this sequence, Muschietti explains, "I wasn't interested in that part. My emotional experience with the book did not regard that scene at all, and I think in general it's an unnecessary metaphor at the end of the story of a rite of passage. That actually was talked about during the whole story, but it was a bit unnecessary."
He added, "I think, while it was jarring in the book, it wasn't necessary in the movie adaptation. For me, it was about engaging the audience from an emotional point of view with the characters."
This isn't to say Muschietti avoided the concept completely, but rather, chose different methods to explore those themes.
"Basically, it is the death of childhood, and that's why it is not a coincidence that Pennywise calls himself the eater of worlds," the director noted. "It's not an eater of worlds in regard to planets, or at least I never thought of it that way. What he's eating is faith and imagination and the ability to fantasize about things that don't exist, that are part of the magic of childhood, and yeah, I think the group scene was a bit of unnecessary broad metaphor of that rite of passage."
IT lands in theaters Friday, September 8.