Even It’s Original Script Didn’t Touch Stephen King’s Most Shocking Scene

Cary Fukunaga’s original script for Stephen King’s It was a darker, more mature take on the source novel, yet the treatment still avoided the book’s most infamously controversial scene. Stephen King’s It had a long and rocky road to the big screen, with numerous creatives being attached to the adaptation before director Andy Muschietti eventually helmed the two-part movie. One of the most famous attempts to bring the story of Pennywise to life came from Cary Fukunaga, whose script for the movie adaptation was partially used in the finished film.

Like the eventual movie, Fukunaga’s script didn’t touch on Pennywise’s pre-Stephen King’s It backstory but the treatment did differ a lot from what viewers eventually saw in theatres. Fukunaga’s script for the movie featured more explicit abuse scenes involving Beverly and her father, more obvious references to King’s earlier hit The Shining, and a bigger role for Mike Hanlon. But even this early treatment steered clear of the source novel’s most infamous scene.

Related: Stephen King’s Pennywise Prequel Should Avoid It: Chapter 2 Taboo

Fukunaga’s partially discarded original script for It was more ambitious, stranger, and darker than the 2017 Andy Muschietti movie, with more scenes set in Pennywise’s sewer home, more violent deaths, and trippier nightmare sequences. However, even this more mature version of the project didn’t go near the infamous sewer sequence in It’s source novel. Presumably, this was because no mainstream movie, let alone a blockbuster, wanted to reference the original book’s deeply discomfiting sex scene between child characters. Even a Stephen King movie adaptation, which is always likely to feature some scary, disturbing content, would have trouble justifying any attempt to include the still-controversial scene.

The It movie adaptation replaces the sewer group-sex scene with a less scarring scene wherein the Loser’s Club cement their bond for life by cutting their hands and becoming blood brothers, and sister. In contrast, the novel features a shocking scene in which the group’s members have sex with Beverly despite all of the characters involved being minors, a shocking passage that had no place in a screen adaptation. Where works such as Lolita needed to find subtle ways to depict their source novel’s shocking content onscreen, the fact that It's surreally out-of-place scene isn’t central to the plot of the Stephen King novel made it easier for both the miniseries and movie adaptations of the book to excise it entirely.

While projects like 2022’s Firestarter remake prove not every Stephen King adaptation can improve on the source text, decisions like Fukunaga’s choice to avoid this scene show that a lot of King’s work can benefit from a judicious edit. King famously justified the scene’s inclusion in the novel by noting that the experience of trauma bonds the young characters, but that doesn’t mean the movie version of It needed to make their shared trauma explicit onscreen. This was something that was understood even in the darker, edgier version of Stephen King’s It that Cary Fukunaga scripted.

More: IT Theory Claims Bill Denbrough Is Really Stephen King

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