Writer/director Cary Fukunaga (Jane Eyre) has left the new adaptation of Stephen King’s It, leaving the project’s status in jeopardy, according to The Wrap. The news comes after the project was moved from Warner Bros to sister studio New Line Cinema (under the same Time Warner umbrella).
Reports say Fukunaga butted heads with studio executives over the project’s budget after he submitted the latest draft of the script, which had the project shooting in New York – one of the more expensive locales for production. Fukunaga also reportedly wanted to cast Ben Mendelsohn (Slow West) as the evil clown, Pennywise, but the actor apparently turned down the project due to the pay cut he would have had to take. Will Poulter (The Maze Runner) was later cast in the lead role.
It is set in Derry, Maine, and follows Pennywise, a shape-shifting clown and child-murderer who terrorizes the town. Fukunaga originally envisioned the project as two films, which made sense given that the previous adaptation was a TV miniseries, where Tim Curry (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) played the villain.
Fukunaga is one of the hottest writer/directors working today after directing the entire first season of HBO’s True Detective. His next film, Beasts of No Nation, is currently in post-production. That film stars Idris Elba (The Gunman) as an African warlord, and was acquired by Netflix. Fukunaga is also working on an anti-bullying drama for A24, as well as a sci-fi miniseries based on the novel The Alienist.
Fukunaga leaving It has put the movie on hold indefinitely as the studio re-evaluates the project as a whole. Stephen King took to Twitter to share his thoughts on the development, summing up the current situation:
The remake of IT may be dead–or undead–but we’ll always have Tim Curry. He’s still floating down in the sewers of Derry.
— Stephen King (@StephenKing) May 25, 2015