The Wrap is reporting the sources close to New Line’s upcoming reboot of Stephen King’s It say that Cary Fukunaga is out as director, despite having written two scripts for the planned shoot with co-scripter Chase Palmer. Many reasons have been cited for the True Detective helmer’s sudden exit from the planned diptych of films, with New Line’s demands for budget cuts being the most prominent excuse given. The budget cuts would almost certainly have included Fukunaga moving the setting of his film out of New York City, which is rather notorious for its pricey shooting permits. That being said, sources also said that the project’s move from Warner Bros. to New Line was also a deciding factor in Fukunaga leaving, likely moving on to pursue his Joe and Jadin Bell film over at A24, as well as prep his miniseries take on Caleb Carr‘s excellent “The Alienist.”
This is bad news for a film that needs a director of Fukunaga’s caliber to really work. The former adaptation, which featured the great Tim Curry as the demonic clown Pennywise, was entertaining but empty in terms of subtextual fascination and visuals, making for a movie that only really works if you’re trying to nurse a hangover and don’t want to be bothered. Fukunaga’s two-film plan, split between the main characters as youngsters and as adults sparring with Pennywise, is an intriguing gambit, one that almost certainly added to New Line’s uncertainty over whether or not to fund the film. Fukunaga is a genuine visionary, which means taking risks, which, of course, makes him a liability in the eyes of most studio execs. Still, the most petty and somewhat believable possible reason for the director moving on is the fear of It’s marketing resembling New Line’s recent Poltergeist remake, which had a rough first weekend at the box office. Regardless, this deals a major blow to what was a hotly anticipated release from a major filmmaker.