Here’s what we know. It, an adaptation of half of Stephen King’s bestselling 1986 novel, had a record-breaking opening weekend and will finish its run at or near the top of the list of the highest-grossing horror movies of all time. Featuring no major stars, It was directed by Andy Muschietti, who had previously made an average (but lucrative) PG-13 horror flick called Mama.
What will happen next? We can’t predict the future, of course, but we know this much: Hollywood will examine the situation very carefully and take the wrong lessons from it. Let’s take a guess at where It‘s success will lead us.
“People want to see clowns!”
Though partially correct (people want to see creepy, murderous clowns), Hollywood will extrapolate this too far and conclude that it’s clowns in general audiences crave. Watch for biopics of Ronald McDonald, Bozo, Krusty, and Homey the Clown, probably a raunchy comedy set at a clown college (suggested title: Balloon-Animal House), maybe even a romantic drama about two gay clowns who must hide their love from the jealous strongman (suggested title: The Big Top).
“People want to see movies that only tell half of the story!”
They’ve been toying with this for a while, splitting The Hobbit, the last Harry Potter book, and one of the Twilights into multiple films. It confirms it: audiences are clamoring for adaptations of halves of books. Expect the upcoming version of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express to focus on the passengers boarding the train and stop just as the murder happens, and the adaptation of André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name to only include the part of the book where the history of the peach orchards is given.
“People love Stephen King!”
This is actually true, but you may rest assured Hollywood will misinterpret it. Watch for a rushed re-release of The Dark Tower — now branded as Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, by the Author of It — followed by movie versions of those Entertainment Weekly columns he used to write where he’d name his 10 favorite movies of the year even though he’d only seen 14 movies.
“People want R-rated films about children being terrorized!”
Conventional wisdom has long held that horror movies about the pursuit and murder of pre-adolescents must be toned down to a PG-13 level if you want to attract any kind of mass audience. That having now been disproven, watch for bloodier, harsher reboots of Escape to Witch Mountain and The Wizard of Oz, and for a scene to be added to Justice League where Batman twists a little boy’s head right off his neck.
“People love Skarsgards!”
Stellan Skarsgard and his son Alexander have already won international fame, Stellan for his appearances in the Pirates of the Caribbean and Marvel Cinematic Universe franchises, Alexander for whichever vampire TV show he was on. Now researchers have uncovered a previously unknown Skarsgard, Bill, who plays Pennywise the clown in It, which you may have heard is a huge hit. Obviously, moviegoers are obsessed with the Skarsgard family, so get ready for leading roles from Alexander and Bill’s other brother, Scooter; their father’s twin sister, Stella; and their grandfather, Bertil Bengt “Pappy” Skarsgard.
“People love Maine!”
The success of It is indisputable proof that The Pine Tree State’s moment has finally arrived! Watch for films that were going to be set in other snowy, lily-white locations (e.g., Canada, Utah) to be hastily moved to Maine, and for films that were going to mention “Portland” to now be talking about the Maine one, not the good one.
Also be on the lookout for an increase in movies set in the late 1980s; movies about sexually abusive fathers; horror movies that are well over two hours long; and movies that take place in sewers. In addition, we suspect producers of upcoming movies based on books are already calling their screenwriters and having them take out the scenes where the children have orgies. Sorry, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing!
Eric D. Snider lives in Portland (the good one).