The ending of blockbusting Stephen King horror IT no doubt left you with many questions. Namely what does Pennywise's return mean for the grown-up members of the Losers' Club?
Make no mistake: another supernatural battle is brewing, and it's going to get a whole lot scarier before it gets better. Here's what we know.
The story so far...
Director Andy Muschietti and writer Gary Dauberman have split King's hefty, 1,000-page novel in half. This year's segment introduced us to the Losers' Club as kids as they battled the malevolent Pennywise, the entity stalking their troubled hometown of Derry, Maine.
At the end of the movie they defeated the evil clown and banished him to hibernation. However, it's only a temporary victory. Should Pennywise come back, they make a blood oath to be prepared to return to Derry and battle IT again – and that fateful moment arrives, 27 years later.
The second half of the story picks up with the Losers as adults, and their pivotal fight to rid the town of Pennywise once and for all. Only this time, they're grappling with distinctly more adult problems, whilst still attempting to come to terms with their inner demons.
Muschietti and Dauberman are already working on the sequel
Given the enormous success of IT (the movie has already taken a massive $209 million against its $35m budget and posted the largest opening ever for a horror movie), it's no surprise Warner Bros. and New Line are hungry like Pennywise for a sequel.
Director Muschietti says the next chapter will stay rooted in the perspective of the central characters, a decision that already helped ground this year's instalment in a degree of relatable, recognisable emotion.
"I really wanted to focus on the emotional journey of the group of kids. Getting in to that other dimension — the other side — was something that we could introduce in the second part," Muschietti told Yahoo Movies. "In the book the perspective of the writing … is always with the Losers, so everything they know about Pennywise is very speculative and shrouded in absurdity, so I wanted to respect that mystery feeling of not knowing what’s on the other side."
However it doesn't yet have the green light
Producer Barbara Muschietti says the sequel isn't yet officially confirmed. But given the financial rewards being reaped by Warner Bros, not to mention the glowing reviews that have hailed the movie as a superior Stephen King adaptation, confirmation can't be very far away.
The Hollywood Reporter says Muschietti is "waiting in the wings" to make the second movie. And there's one very important reason why production needs to get underway sharpish.
"The hope is we’ll find the best way soon, because it’s also important for Andy to get flashbacks with the kids, who are growing very fast," she says. "They are an important component in the next film."
Yes, the kids are coming back – more on that below...
If you were catching your breath during the first IT's end credits sequence, you will have got a little shiver of delight at the climactic title reveal, 'IT: Chapter One' (accompanied by Pennywise's laugh).
Therefore it stands to reason that the second instalment will be named 'IT: Chapter Two'. Plus, it reinforces and honours the literary connection to King himself.
Jessica Chastain *could* play the adult Bev
The director and actress worked together on his previous feature, 2013 horror Mama, and it seems Muschietti is keen to revive the parnership, should schedules permit.
"Jessi is an amazing actress and very good friend and I would love her to play Beverly," he tells Variety.
Not only is there a physical resemblance between Chastain and young Beverly actress, Sophia Lillis but the former is one of the most accomplished stars in Hollywood (Oscar-nommed for the likes of Zero Dark Thirty) and could really dig into the insecurities and anxieties of the adult character. Watch this space...
The movie will jump between two timelines
The first IT movie differs from King's novel in significant ways.
Not only does it move the kids' storyline from the 1957 setting of the novel to 1989 (allowing the filmmakers to capitalise on Stranger Things pop culture nostalgia), it also leaves out the flashback structure of the book that alternates between the adults' perspectives (1984-85) and their more youthful selves.
Muschietti however tells Variety he's keen to reinstate this device for the second part of the movie saga.
"The thing I want to bring in the next film that I couldn’t do here is the dialogue between the two timelines," he explains. "That was so important in the book and we didn’t get to explore that here, but I wanted to keep the story of the kids as pure and without interference as I could. The dialogue between those two timelines with all those flashbacks is so important to the book that I want to bring that back."
Does this mean that we aren't yet done with the sensational kid actors playing the Losers' Club? This is very good news indeed.
And of course, by altering the book's timeline, the adult confrontation with Pennywise will now take place in the altogether-more-familiar 2016. Spooky...
Pennywise's history will be explored even further
Those who've read King's book will be aware that the mythology of IT gets seriously weird as the story progresses. Put simply, he's part of the Macroverse, made up of an ancient evil named the Deadlights (witnessed by young Beverly in the movie when his head opened up), and his nemesis is The Turtle (also known as Maturin), a transdimensional being that acts as a force for good.
Rest assured the story is going to a whole lot more bizarre, and Bill Skarsgard says he's excited to see where it goes.
"I am attached to it but that’s all I can say," he tells Metro, "we’re in the early stages and I’m talking to Andy about it and figuring out what It will be. It’s a different story but I’m excited to delve in deeper to the character as there’s more exploration for who Pennywise is."
Muschietti tells Yahoo: "So everything they know about Pennywise is very speculative and shrouded in absurdity, so I wanted to respect that mystery feeling of not knowing what’s on the other side. I also wanted to leave something for the second half, so I didn’t want to get in trouble with that – going into the macroverse or that transdimensional stuff – and keep it grounded, from the point of view of the kids. There’s another movie to expand into that."
New actors will be involved
This is obvious given the older representations of the children. Nevertheless a lot hinges on the successful casting of the adult actors. This is critical for Muschietti and the rest of the crew – but while they deliberate on that, the young stars have named their own choices. Check them out here.
It's going to be a heck of a lot darker
There will be no clowning around in the sequel. Although the first IT is as charming and funny as it is scary, the next one will really ramp up the levels of terror.
"It won't be a comedy," Muschietti says.
Mike's arc is a lot bleaker
In the novel the persecuted Mike is the one who uncovers Pennywise's malevolent history, not Ben as depicted in the movie. In the book Mike is the only one of the Losers' Club to remain in Derry as an adult, eventually becoming the town librarian. Nevertheless Muschietti has grand, shocking plans for the character.
"My idea of Mike in the second movie is quite darker from the book," he tells EW. "I want to make his character the one pivotal character who brings them all together, but staying in Derry took a toll with him. I want him to be a junkie actually. A librarian junkie. When the second movie starts, he’s a wreck."
Muschietti adds: "He’s not just the collector of knowledge of what Pennywise has been doing in Derry. He will bear the role of trying to figure out how to defeat him. The only way he can do that is to take drugs and alter his mind."
This feeds into a pivotal segment of the novel that was cut from the first movie: the Ritual of Chud. It's a mind-altering psychic ceremony that brings them into contact with the ancient deities that will help them defeat Pennywise. This has now been folded into Mike's storyline.
"It resonates with what the kids do when they go to the smokehouse in the Barrens,” the director says. "By inhaling these fumes from the fire they have visions of It, and the origin of It, and the falling fire in the sky that crashed into Derry millions of years ago. We’ve brought that to Mike, by the end of those 30 years Mike has figured out the Ritual of Chüd."
In the novel Jewish kid Stan's experiences with Pennywise prove so traumatic that upon learning 27 years later the clown has come back, he commits suicide rather than go through it all again.
In the movie this is juiced up with Stan's attack by the painting from his father's study, who latches onto his face during the climactic sewer confrontation. Little wonder he reaches his wits end.
"There is something in the future for him, taking his own life, that finds its seed in this film,” Muschietti explains. "He is the one who doesn’t want to accept what’s going on. And being the one who didn’t want to participate he gets the worst part."
The release date...
No exact date has been given yet but Pennywise and the Losers will be back at some point in 2019.