Horror fans rejoice, for It: Chapter 2 has finally floated into cinemas, concluding the saga of Pennywise and the Loser's Club. Of course, there are some huge differences between the second movie and the book, and we sat down with director Andy Muschietti to discuss some of the biggest.
Spoilers for It: Chapter 2 ahead. You have been warned...
Still here? Then you've survived another haunting meeting with the chaotic clown Pennywise. The movie remains somewhat similar to the book in story beats, even having the monster transform into a spider-like being at the end. However, there are a couple of things missing, namely a story line in which Beverly's abusive husband, Tom, comes to Derry and is ordered by Pennywise to capture Bill's wife, Audra.
Both Tom and Audra appear in the movie, but only briefly, with Muschietti deciding to confine their appearances to the first 20 minutes. Why? Turns out, test screenings of the first movie were mainly to blame for the characters' not being bigger parts of It: Chapter 2.
"When we released the first movie, we realised there are lesser threats than Pennywise that people just don’t care about," the director tells GamesRadar and Total Film. "In the first movie, that was Henry Bowers. He was a physical, aggressive presence there. Every scene that was part of his plot and was not related to the Loser’s Club, people did not care about. There were scenes with Henry Bowers on his farm home, where we explore the humanity of Henry and why he’s such a piece of shit, because he’s actually being abused by his Dad, who beats him up. It was very important in the script but the test screenings tell you a lot of things."
With the test screening results showing that the human villains were not as entertaining as Pennywise, the creative team decided to ditch Tom.
"We thought 'The same thing is going to happen'," Muschietti says. "We already have Bowers, who people are on the fence with. Apart from that, we’re going to bring another physical threat, who’s lesser than Bowers? And then Audra, who’s less essential? From the experience on the first movie, we decided not to have those elements."
Muschietti also spoke about the decision to make Bill Hader's character Ritchie gay. Fans have long speculated that the character and Eddie, played by James Ransone in the second movie, shared feelings for each other. In It: Chapter 2, Ritchie's sexuality is made clear.
"I was attracted to the idea that there was something unspoken between them, something that was never physical between them, or never reciprocated by Eddie," the director says. "In our version, Ritchie is gay and he’s built this persona to avoid being exposed, because he’s hiding his sexual identity. The whole thing starts in that arcade, as that’s the beginning of his trauma, where he’s pointed out and humiliated for being himself. He doesn’t want to be humiliated again and, for the rest of his life, he’s unable to show it. At the beginning of the movie, with his reintroduction, we see him joking about masturbating to his girlfriend’s best friend on Facebook."
We also spoke to Muschietti about a certain missing mystical creature that never appeared in either movie, despite being a part of the book, and how Stephen King came to have a cameo. It: Chapter 2 is in cinemas now.