One of the best surprises of 2017 was the fantastic film adaptation of Stephen King’s epic novel It. Armed with a terrific group of seven kids to play the Losers’ Club, along with an unforgettable and surreal performance by Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Dancing Clown (a physical manifestation of the ancienty entity known as It that scares and feeds on children), director Andy Muschietti fashioned a genuine modern horror classic out of King’s near-legendary book. He created a memorable, frightening and emotionally vivid experience by focusing on what makes King’s stories work: the characters, their relationships, and how those are put to the test by unfathomable supernatural or human evil.
The Blu-ray and DVD of It arrive this week (on Tuesday), and it’s clearly a must-have for fans of the movie and King’s work in general. The movie itself holds up incredibly well on repeat viewings, but the new disc seems a bit…sparse. There are 11 interesting deleted scenes (10 if you don’t count the first, an “alternate take” on the movie’s opening that we’ll let you discover), some of which provide some extra depth to characters whose screen time was cut back in the theatrical version. There are also three featurettes: an in-depth examination of Bill Skarsgard and Pennywise, a charming look at the kids in the Losers Club, and an excellent interview with King himself on It’s origins – including some of its more autobiographical aspects.
But there is no commentary from Muschietti, no director’s cut (which he has hinted at), no exhaustive documentation of the making of the film itself, and no production archives, which leads us to believe that Warner Home Video will be going for a deluxe double dip at some point later on (maybe to promote the sequel?). We’re not fans of that strategy at all, but we’re still pleased to get some additional context and supporting materials for a movie that was one of our favorites of last year. Here are 10 things we learned from the Blu-ray for It:
It Wasn’t CGI, Bill Skarsgard’s Face Is Just Scary
Bill Skarsgard was able to achieve two eerie facial effects by himself as Pennywise, without any kind of digital or practical enhancements. One was an odd twisting of his lower lip so that it curves downward, while the other was a lazy eye effect in which his left eye wanders off to the side on its own – an effect that Muschietti wanted for the character.
As Muschietti notes, “What are the chances that the actor that you cast can do that practically?”
Skarsgard Isolated Himself from the Cast and Crew
Skarsgard kept himself isolated from the children and even the crew during much of the shoot, calling it “the loneliest production I’ve ever worked on,” but adding that he thought that his performance benefited from it.
Skarsgard Auditioned While Wearing Makeup
A final note on Skarsgard – he was the only actor who auditioned for the role of Pennywise wearing makeup.
The Opening Storm Drain Scene Was Filmed Last
Muschietti left the classic opening scene – in which little George Denbrough is lured to his doom by Pennwise in a storm drain – to be filmed at the very end of the shoot, saying that it was better to do it after Skarsgard’s performance evolved over the course of production.
The Losers Prepared for the Movie By Spending a Week Hanging Out
How did the seven child actors who played the Losers Club achieve such a terrific dynamic and chemistry with each other? The kids themselves said they were aided immensely by performance coach Ben Perkins, who was hired by the production to help the seven young stars with their craft and characters. The kids also had a week to hang out and bond together before shooting.
King Based Pennywise’s Hauntings on Bangor, Maine
Stephen King says that after coming up with the idea of an entire town or small city haunted by an evil entity, he began talking to people in Bangor, Maine to find out what the town had in its “closet” – recollections of bars where bad stuff went down, or a nightspot that was segregated and burned down one night, or other incidents of real death and darkness in the town’s history.
He adds that the final piece of the puzzle was the extensive network of nearly forgotten sewers that ran under Bangor.
King’s Childhood Was Also Inspired the Story
King also says that things that happen in the story – like the Losers Club playing in the woods known as the Barrens, or Ben Hanscom’s crush on Beverly Marsh, were inspired by incidents and memories from his own childhood.
There’s More to the Basement Scene with Bill, Georgie, and Pennywise
Some of the deleted scenes foreshadow other events in the movie and provide some additional character development.
In one, after Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Lieberher) sees George and Pennywise in his basement, which appears to be flooded, he runs upstairs where his father Zack (Geoffrey Pounsett) has been awakened. Zack descends into the basement and Bill listens as his father sloshes around in the water – only to come up and pronounce the cellar “dry as a bone.” Zack’s inability to detect the water parallels the scene in which Beverly’s father can’t see the sprays of blood all over the walls of her bathroom.
There’s an Excellent Extended Scene About Stanley’s Bar Mitzvah
One of the best deleted scenes involves an extended look at Stanley’s (Wyatt Oleff) bar mitzvah, in which he gives a poignant but bitter speech about how when people pass from childhood to adulthood, they become indifferent to the world and people around them, and only concern themselves with their own lives. The speech plays over a montage of the other kids, some of which is still in the finished film, and highlights what the Losers’ Club is dealing with while the town around them looks the other way.
An Alternate Ending Scene Sees the Denbroughs Go on Vacation
A final scene that would have played after the Losers’ Club say goodbye to each other sees Bill and his parents going off on vacation – a vacation that his parents rejected in an earlier deleted scene because of its connection to Georgie. The way the film ends now is fine, keeping the focus on the relationship between Bill and Beverly, but this also shows there is some hope for the fractured Denbrough family, even if it ends on an ominous note that points the way to It: Chapter Two.