After ‘Dark Tower’, Will ‘IT’ Be Enough To Save Stephen King’s Movie Reputation?

Matthew Loffhagen
Warner Bros
(Photo: Warner Bros)

It sounds like Stephen King really likes the new IT movie.

Speaking to Bloody Disgusting about the upcoming movie, King has made it categorically clear that his fans will absolutely love the new take on Pennywise the clown:

“I’m sure my fans will enjoy the movie. I think they’re gonna really 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.”

This sounds good, but there’s a lingering issue that may keep traditional Stephen King fans from heading back to movie theaters to see the film, no matter how much the author may praise it.

As creepy as the new IT may be, The Dark Tower casts a long shadow.

This year’s dimension-hopping sci-fi Western starring Idris Elba and Matthew McConaughey was intended to be a big deal. The story, had all things gone well, should have tied together a lot of previous Stephen King stories as only a movie about parallel Earths could.

The film is laced with subtle and not-so-subtle references to previous Stephen King stories that have become popular TV shows and movies, including The Shining, Carrie, and, of course, IT.

Right at the start of this trailer, for example, is a reference to Pennywise. Nobody was being coy about this; The Dark Tower was essentially an attempt to connect all Stephen King properties in one big shared universe.

Then, the movie tanked. Not only did it not make any money, but it’s also objectively awful, receiving horrendous reviews across the board. The Dark Tower ended up being an enormous embarrassment for Sony Pictures, and a large blot on Stephen King’s legacy.

Thus far, IT looks set to regain some ground here. The story is familiar to horror fans, and a truly scary interpretation of the mythos has the potential to take what people remember from the Tim Curry version, and make Pennywise even more nightmarish.

If King himself is pleased with it, then fans of his work will probably enjoy it too – if they can be bothered to go see it.

Movie trends ebb and flow, and while Stephen King’s work has made some of the most impressive movies in the history of film, this isn’t to say that his work is always universally going to meet audience expectations.

Considering how badly The Dark Tower did, there’s a danger that audiences simply won’t feel enthusiastic about yet another Stephen King movie so soon after such a big disappointment. One bad movie could spoil future releases.

Thankfully, there is definitely a very different tone to these two films. The Dark Tower almost seemed to be hiding its horror origins, while IT is leaning very heavily into the darkest, scariest elements of its mythos.

With any luck, Stephen King’s newest movie might, if anything, be able to retroactively fix some of the damage that The Dark Tower inflicted on the author’s name.

Pennywise in IT by Stephen King
Source: Warner Bros

Assuming, that is, that IT is worth writing home about, and that it does a good job of being something unique and different, justifying its existence as being original enough to stand separate to the IT television show that’s come before.

Considering the popularity of the Tim Curry IT, the new movie has some big clown shoes to fill.

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