Stephen King might have had a rough August with The Dark Tower, but he's having a much better September, as the newest adaptation of his novel It is a smash hit. Opening weekend brought in $123 million domestically, obliterating expected box office watcher predictions, which were barely half that. That puts It at the Number 3 movie opening for 2017, only bested by Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy 2. (Sorry Spiderman!) With that much money up front, the inevitable questions is, will there be an It sequel?
Well, of course there will be. You don't open a movie with those kinds of numbers in the second decade of the 21st century and not immediately go into "franchise" mode. Heck, some studios would upgrade directly to an Marvel Cinematic Universe/Star Wars type "universe" mode without passing GO or collecting $123 million dollars.
(I just imagined a Stephen King shared universe, and will now take to my bed for the next month in terror.)
But here's the thing. Perhaps box office watchers only predicted a $65 million opening for one of King's most famous novels, but some at Warner Bros. were clearly banking on a sequel greenlight. Because this movie was only the first half of the novel, anyway.
There's a reason the movie calls itself "IT: Chapter 1." It's like the original Star Wars being titlecarded "Episode IV." As Entertainment Weekly explains:
The plan all along was to cleave King's 1,000-plus page novel in half, separating the story of the kids in the Losers Club from the parallel tale of their adult selves, returning to the town of Derry to confront the shapeshifting evil presence they thought they defeated as children.
Warner Bros. hasn't technically greenlit the second movie yet, but that's just a matter of the wheels of bureaucracy turning. Warner Bros., as industry watchers know, hasn't been having the best of times with its universal franchises, with only Wonder Woman taking off from the DC Extended Universe, and Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them giving a slow start to the Harry Potter revival.
With It, now Warner Bros.' best opening this year, it's just a matter of time before a sequel hits the schedule release charts. Writing and pre-production are already getting underway, and are just awaiting the go ahead to move forward with director Andy Muschietti returning to helm the sequel.
The movie out now is set in 1988-89, updated from the novel's 1960s-era time period. The second half of the novel will take place 27 years later (same time jump spacing as the novel) and have what is set in the 1980s on the page occur in this decade. (Let's all hope It is into Instagram.)
But don't worry that the younger actors from the first movie will be left behind. The plan is to have flashbacks to the 1989 time period (ones that are not just scenes from the first movie) in order to have continuity, and keep the breakout stars from the Loser's Club as part of the ensemble. Also, Bill Skarsgard, who plays the clown, has agreed to return.
As for those who insist that the ending of this movie is very final, with It dead, and the Losers going their separate ways, and that there's no way a sequel could possibly happen, that's just what the first half of the book wants you to think. It's what Pennywise the Clown wants you to think.
This is how he has survived as long as he has, because people forget the oaths they took as children — to be friends forever — and drift away. So when the evil does return (and the evil always returns), those who promised to be there aren't, and a new generation gets to live out their traumatizing turn.
Let's just hope, when the time comes, the Loser's Club can bring themselves to break the cycle. Otherwise... Well, I'm sure It 3: Derry Drift would be a pretty popular movie, anyway.