HBO Max have recently announced that a prequel series to the IT films is in the works. Titled Welcome to Derry it will take place in the years leading up to the events in IT: Chapter 1, starting back in 1960 when the horrors first began. Andy Muschetti, director of both IT: Chapter 1 and 2 has signed on to executive produce the series along with sister Barbara. Jason Fuchs is also attached as writer and producer having been involved in the IT films.
Having originally been adapted for the screen back in 1990 as a two-part mini series for ABC, Stephen Kings horrific story of Pennywise the Dancing Clown has been terrifying audiences and readers alike for decades. The first instalment of the 2017 cinematic release was met with generally high praise, notably for the unhinged and terrifying portrayal of Pennywise by Bill Skarsgaard that was just different enough from Tim Curry’s portrayal 27 years prior. In addition, the direction was genuinely very terrifying, using visual effects to enhance the horrors of Pennywise in a way that hadn’t been done before. However, the franchises second part left much less to be desired as the now grown-up kids return to Derry to rid the town of Pennywise for good. This however was very over the top, very CGI heavy and a needlessly long addition to the story. The film relied more on showing off the supposed trickery of the clown in a very visual-effectsy way rather than doing what the original did so well – scaring the socks off us. Instead, it was an almost 3-hour haul through some pretty banal dialogue, unlikeable characters with a very unsatisfying ending.
There certainly is something very intriguing about the prospect of learning of Pennywise’s origins and how he has been terrorising the town for so many years. In Stephen Kings novel it is said that Pennywise is a shapeshifting monster who arrived on Earth during an asteroid impact. It’s said that he made his home on the land where Derry was founded and initially fed on North American tribes and then feeds once a year, for the whole year before hibernating for around 30 years. As the title of the prequel series is ‘Welcome to Derry’ and set in the 1960’s, I think we will get much less of the intergalactic fear monster and more of when Pennywise first started to feed on the people of Derry. Either way, its bound to be a riot.
There is very little information at this stage about who would be attached to the project. However, if HBO Max’s recent influx of origin story series based on film characters (most recently Colin Farrell returning to the role of Penguin in a Batman spin-off series) is anything to go by then we could be looking at Bill Skarsgaard returning to the iconic role, it certainly wouldn’t be the same without him.