The new It movie follows seven kids in the ‘80s as they battle against a demonic shape-shifting clown named Pennywise, but Stephen King fans know that’s only half of the story. Here’s how the 2017 It movie ends, what it all means, and how it sets up the second part of the story, which takes place 27 years later.
This post contains spoilers for both the It movie and the novel.
In the film, the Losers’ Club heads into the sewers via the creepy house on Neibolt Street, fending off an attack from the psychotic bully Henry Bowers in the process. They’re on a mission to rescue Beverly, who had been kidnapped by Pennywise after their earlier encounter. Once they get to Pennywise’s lair, Bill is confronted with what looks like his missing younger brother, Georgie. Only, in a heart-wrenching scene, Bill knows it’s not really him.
The kids gang up on Pennywise, who cycles through various forms attempting to fight back and scare them until he realizes: They’re not afraid anymore. Weakened and powerless, he flees to a deep, deep refuge in the sewers, his reign of terror brought to an early end.
As summer winds down, the Losers’ Club gathers to talk about what happened. Beverly, who got a glimpse of It’s true form when Pennywise captured her, recalls a cryptic vision. She says she saw the seven of them, older, their parents’ ages, back in the sewers. The gang makes a blood pact that they’ll return to stop It if the creature ever comes back to prey on children again. The movie ends with the It title card, only there’s a new addition: a subtitle reading “Chapter 1.”
The ending of the movie is both a simplification of King’s 1986 novel, which gets pretty “out there,” and a setup for the second part of the narrative. The book tells two stories at the same time by flashing back and forth: The Losers’ Club taking down It as kids (which takes place in the ‘50s in the book rather than the ‘80s) and as adults ready to finish the job 27 years later. The movie, wisely, divides the two plots chronologically. Bev’s vision and the promise they all make to one another are the only real indicators that the story isn’t over yet.
There are several other differences between the climax of the book and the movie. In the novel, the kid Losers have a metaphysical battle with it, featuring an appearance by a turtle who created the universe and something known as the “Ritual of Chüd.” Director Andy Muschietti said he intentionally kept the ending of the first movie grounded to keep the focus on the kids, so expect to see some of the more outlandish, cosmic aspects of the showdown in part 2. There’s also a preteen orgy in the book that didn’t make it into the movie. Probably for the best.
See Also: Inverse’s Review of It