By Kimmarie Rojas, MLS, SEO
“We all float down here …”
…and on September 8, Stephen King’s unforgettable thriller, “IT”, will be floating into a theater near you. Pennywise the Clown, arguably one of King’s most terrifying creatures, will be introduced to a whole new generation of horror fans and coulrophobics. “IT” was a best seller on its release in 1986. But Tim Curry’s portrayal of the killer clown in the first film adaptation television miniseries gave an entire generation interminable nightmares. The “teaser trailer” promotion for the 2017 feature film broke records, racking up 197 million views within 24 hours. Although a Stephen King story or book to film adaptation is around every corner this year, the trailer of the 2017 release of “IT” is already creating buzz in the film and literary industries and trending across the web.
“IT”: The Trailer Buzz
The 2017 “IT” trailer opens with an adolescent Bill Denbrough folding a paper boat for his young brother, Georgie. The trailer continues with the familiar scene of a yellow-slickered Georgie chasing his paper boat in the rain. The boat falls into the sewer drain and…flash! The screen goes dark and credits appear: “From Stephen King’s Terrifying Novel”. An aerial view of the town of Derry, Maine, focus into a group of pre-teens, including Bill. As they ride their bikes through the neighborhood, the mysteries of their town are defined in background voice.
As disappearances continue, the boys bond into “The Losers Club”, a dark comradery against “IT”. Together, they confront and are confronted by the omniscient creature that preys on their individual fears.
Fans of both the book and the mini-series immediately noticed an important missing element in the film’s trailer and voiced their concerns on social media. Primarily, fans conjectured on the conspicuous absence of the adult story line. In fact, no “adults” are featured in the trailer, at all.
Does the new version eliminate this essential story line? Is there a sequel planned? Without the complete story, how could this version be a faithful film adaptation of King’s original novel?
Stephen King’s response verified (or strongly alluded) that this was indeed part one:
Producing a Faithful Book to Film Adaptation
Cary Fukunaga, the original director, parted from the movie just prior to filming, citing “creative differences”. His vision called for a sequel that continued the novel’s plot line with the return of the now adult “Loser’s Club” members. When Director Andy Muschietti came on, the “sequel” plan was not reiterated, but neither was it denied. King’s tweet and other evidence of a “Part II” gave clear clues that a sequel is indeed planned, even in the absence of supporting announcements. With a young and unknown cast in Part I, fan reviewers are betting on big names for Part II. Still, some reviewers believe the success of any sequel will depend on the popularity of the first part.
Per Digital Spy , the 2017 release follows the book more closely than the original miniseries. The 2017 film expands on the dark but meaningful themes found in the “Loser Club” scenes from the original text. One significant change from the book is the time in which the story takes place. The original “Georgie” scene and the “Losers Club” plot line took place in the 1950’s. Director Muschietti changed this to the 1980’s, with subtle and not so subtle references to the era in which the book was written. By changing the time element, the film version of “IT” may add reminiscent appeal to the original novel fans. Even with this change, most reviews agree that the new version stays true to, and even expands on, King’s world-building prowess by including the town of Derry as a plot element.
Hollywood’s Love Affair with Film Adaptation
Stephen King’s place as the most adapted living author seems to be in little danger of breach. Still, many contemporary authors have negotiated film adaptation contracts with Hollywood. E. L. James; J.K. Rowling; Dean Koontz; Veronica Roth; Nicholas Sparks; Suzanne Collins. All prolific writers and Hollywood royalty. Book to film adaptations garnered nominations in 20 of the 24 Academy Award categories in 2017. Movies adapted from other media, including video games, television, comics and cartoons seems to be trending upward (Paste).
The sheer number of film adaptation projects beg the question: Is this a “trend” or the reality of the entertainment industry? Is cross-media adaptation a viable goal for an author? History would suggest it is. In 1900, the Sherlock Holmes short “Baffled” appeared in a 30 second strip that was viewed through a “Mutoscope”, a device much like Edison’s single view coin operated Kinetoscope. Thus, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was the first author to be credited with book to film adaptation. Two years later, early film pioneer Georges Méliès produced “Le Voyage dans la Lune” (A Trip to the Moon). This silent French film was based on the writings of Jules Verne, and created the iconic image of the man in the moon.
William Shakespeare holds the record for the most International Movie Database (IMDb) credits, with 410 feature length films and 997 IMDb credits. Charles Dickens follows with 340 film credits. Dumas, Dostoevsky, Hugo, Tolstoy and Verne all hold a respectable number of credits in media forms that did not exist in their own time. Review the complete list of credits on the IMDb web site.
What Elements Make a Book Attractive for Cross Media Rights?
A faithful rendition of the original intellectual property is an essential element to a successful film adaptation. Fans of the written work will know if the film deviates from the story’s original themes. Finding and relating these themes in a different media can often be difficult. In most cases, a screenwriter interprets the book into a form that is amenable to film media. Savvy authors looking to gain more control over the production of their work are insisting on more involvement in the film adaptation process.
Gillian Flynn lead by example when her novice screenplay version to “Gone Girl” (2014) was accepted by the film’s producers. Flynn’s successful screenwriting debut furthered the conversation in the industry regarding the author’s involvement in book to film adaptation. After all, who would be better at capturing the deeper themes and subtle clues of a story than the person who wrote the original text? Other authors would rather not be bothered with the details of the film industry. Stephen King, for example, has been known to sell the rights to stories for $1 (2017, Den of Geek).
Big Opportunities on the Small Screen
Technology has not only provided a better movie experience, it has changed the way we create, produce, market, and watch all media. The interaction of media platforms has opened new opportunities for producers. Reciprocally, the ease of and access to production has created previous unavailable opportunities for artists. Creatives can now share their works across the globe with the click of a button. Media outlets such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, once just resellers, are now full production companies.
Scheduled network programming has traditionally depended on episodic conflict resolution. However, with the advent of DVRs and the availability of wi-fi, web-based media can produce easy to access long-story serials. For these and many reasons, visual media production will continue to look towards published works as production material. With ready-made plots, familiar characterization, and an established fan base, book to film adaptations have a long and distinct history. Many analysts believe that media cross-over will only increase as technology expands (mpaa.org)
The curious September release suggests that the opposite is also true. Merchandise, franchise, and additional media is often spun from a movie release. Waiting until September removes “IT” from summer blockbuster competition. September the 8th is a little early for a Halloween date movie; but the timing is perfect for holiday merchandising. Although this is NOT a children’s movie, the release date suggests large Halloween merchandising opportunities. Retailers have a month after release to stock Pennywise costumes and yellow slickers. Expect to see a plethora of scary clowns and “Georgie” costumed trick-or-treaters this October 31st.
©2017 Kimmarie Rojas
Kimmarie Rojas is a Yoast Certified SEO Content and Copywriter, and serves as the Editor for HWG Voices Blog. She holds a masters in Sustainable Societies from Northern Arizona University. Her undergraduate work is in Journalism and Political Science. Kimmarie contracts as an SEO specialist for a Fortune 500 company in Houston. With 20 years experience in web copy, Kimmarie writes and edits essay, blog, opinion and articles. She has also completed four novel drafts. To read Kimmarie’s essays and review the web optimization services she offers, visit her website at https://www.kimrojas.com.