Stephen King has never been one to shy away from revealing his true thoughts on movie adaptations of his books. Even the great Stanley Kubrick felt the author’s ire after King disapproved of his “cold” interpretation of “The Shining.”
But this didn’t stop “It” producing team from heading straight into the lion’s mouth, as David Katzenberg and Seth Grahame-Smith exclusively revealed to Metro that they felt it was their duty to keep the acclaimed author completely up to date throughout the entire creative process for the film.
“We just felt that it was our job to keep him up to date throughout the entire process,” Katzenberg explained. “So when we had a draft of the script that we were happy going forward with we sent it to him let to him read it and get his blessing.”
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Getting into contact with the 69-year-old King wasn’t without its issues, though, as Katzenberg admitted, “It was a very mysterious process You send it off, then we heard back from his agent and he sent a short message that said, ‘Stephen read the script and he loved it, and good luck’.”
Hearing that King had approved of Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga and Gay Dauberman’s script was a huge relief for everyone involved, as it meant that they could proceed knowing that they were at least on the right path. “That was very, very important to us,” Katzenberg continued. “Because we wanted to make sure we were getting it right for him. We wanted to honor the book and that meant honoring the author.”
But getting the script right doesn’t necessarily mean that the finished film will be a triumph. So after months and months of shooting, editing, and being face-to-face with a child-eating clown, director Andy Muschietti, producer David Katzenberg and the rest of the “It” team organized a special screening of the film, and then waited with bated breath for King’s response.
“When we had a pretty decent rough cut we organized a private screening for him,” Katzenberg recalled. “And he sent word that he was just over the moon with it and just loved it. And that for David and I, and Barbara and Andy, too, was a massive relief. No matter what anyone else says. Because if there was an audience of one that was the one that mattered.”
King really did love “It,” admitting that the adaptation was way beyond any expectations that he originally had for the film. “I had hopes, but I was not prepared for how good it really was,” King recently remarked. “It’s something that’s different, and at the same time, it’s something that audiences are gonna relate to. They’re gonna like the characters. To me, it’s all about character. If you like the characters… if you care… the scares generally work.”
“I’m sure my fans will enjoy the movie. And I think some of them will go back two or three times and actually savor the thing. I went back and saw it a second time, and I felt I was seeing things the second time through that I missed the first time.”
That’s just about as sterling a review as a film can get. The entire process of keeping Stephen King in the loop hasn’t put either David Katzenberg or Seth Grahame-Smith off working with the author again. In fact, Smith admitted, “If I could get the rights I would spend the rest of my career adapting Stephen King.”
Luckily for Smith, as long as it is successful, “It” will continue to tell the story of King’s novel with “Chapter 2.” And considering that critics have been just as pleased with “It” as the author, that now seems like a formality.