The ending of Stephen King’s It has long been a source of controversy. At over a thousand pages long, the tome requires a serious amount of investment. The kids of Derry, having eventually become adults, tussle with evil clown Pennywise over a number of decades. The first half of the book documents their childhood, which is blighted the beastie, and in the second half they must return to face him once more. And at the last gasp, readers reasonably want to be rewarded for their perseverance with the killer novel. Instead they get a big spider. Pennywise takes a number of forms. In the final throes, he sprouts eight legs.
We’ve talked before about how the ‘90s adaptation, unforgettably starring Tim Curry, bungled the ending. Luckily IT: Chapter Two, the second instalment of the recent remake, makes only a nod to the spider thing, having Pennywise sprout some extra legs in the final section of the film. Yet that isn’t the only major way in which the new adaptation differs from King’s book. As King wrote it, when Pennywise is finally killed, the town of Derry disappears into a sinkhole (so much for his catchphrase “We all float down here”) with memories of his evil. King wanted to keep this climax, but director Andy Muschietti had other ideas.
The Neibolt house, which contains the action, falls the ground, but Derry remains firmly in one piece. “The ending in the book is bombastic and of course the emotional punch is there,” Muschietti recently told Den Of Geek. “But it’s so bombastic and spectacular it takes away from a little bit from the feelings and the emotions at play within this group of characters.”
He continued: “One thing I knew is that I wanted to keep it intimate and heartbreaking in a way. So I wanted to make an end that was more about the feelings of these characters than huge spectacle. In the book, the whole of Derry falls into a sinkhole and there’s a flood, it’s a big disaster movie – if it was a movie.”
Well, it takes some cojones to tell Stephen King about character development, but the ending to IT: Chapter Two is certainly effective. Upon overcoming Pennywise, the gang returns to Derry, allowing for their emotional evaluation of the events of the past two movies. (Interestingly, though, memories of Pennywise’s legacy to being dissipate, as in the book.)
And those aren’t the only changes that Muschietti made to King killer clown classic. The movie also plays down the Macroverse, the alternate dimension from which Pennywise has sprung. In the book, young Bill (played by James McEvoy in the new movie) enters the Macroverse and has a chat with an ancient giant turtle called Maturin, who explains some hokum called the Ritual of Chud, a potential means of killing Pennywise. All of this is streamlined in the film – after all, it’s long (two hours and 50 minutes), but not that long. Having stripped away the giant arachnid and ancient turtle, IT: Chapter Two doesn’t just float – it soars.