In the modern Hollywood landscape, intellectual property is king. It is consistently milked for all its worth, individual novels warped into multi-film franchises and spinoffs and cinematic universes planned out before the first film has even hit pre-production. It’s hard to argue with the reason, that being the box office returns films that feature notable IP tend to bring in. Still, it’s easy to spot a cheap cash-grab from a mile away, and let’s be clear: It: Chapter 3, or any possible spinoff, would very much make for the cheapest of cash grabs.
Let’s start from the beginning: In a recent interview with ComicBookMovie, It: Chapter Two writer Gary Dauberman expressed interest in developing spinoffs of the franchise, likely in the form of a Pennywise prequel. “I do think it’s possible,” he says, “Anything in the Stephen King Universe interests me but there’s only so much of the story we could tell in the two movies. There are definitely elements of the novel you could expand on and make its own movie. It’s just a question of whether or not people want to see it but I do think It was on this planet for a very, very, very long time and that’s a lot of bloodshed and a lot of stories to tell and I think you could do that for sure.”
Dauberman is far from the first person to suggest this — with as much money as the two It movies made, it’s hard to imagine studios wouldn’t at least consider the prospect. Money is money and Warner Bros. has found itself in possession of some of the hottest blockbuster IP out there.
But it may be pertinent to first take into consideration the reception to It: Chapter Two. While the box office draw may have been strong, the film’s reputation is mediocre at best. It seemed to collapse under its own weighty aspirations and largely served as a lackluster finish to a promising beginning in Chapter One. Furthermore, the second chapter (which is the one Dauberman wrote, consequentially) largely seems to eschew the greater themes of the source material in favor of sanded-down endings, feel-good moments, and cheap jump scares. From the abhorrently handled reveal of Richie’s sexuality (the lone queer character never actually acknowledging his queerness while pining over his dead, heterosexual, married friend is a weird look) to the film’s ending, which sees the Losers retain their memories (in the book they forget again, a crucial moment in establishing the overarching themes of the story), it’s a huge drop in quality from the first film and an even steeper drop from the book itself.
But even if the film were a masterpiece, it wouldn’t warrant spinoffs. Here’s the thing: It is not a story about Pennywise. It is a story about the Losers Club. Pennywise is, at the risk of sounding pretentious, ultimately a symbolic figure rather than a literal one. He’s fear and hatred personified and what makes his interactions with the kids interesting is that he forces them to examine their relationship with those abstract forces and try to stand strong when faced with them.
There is a great deal of lore surrounding the creature in the book that didn’t make it into the film. None of it matters. None of it is spinoff-worthy, no story told in Derry’s history books warrants a prequel — especially not one written by Dauberman. The story told in It is finite, and turning Pennywise into the central figure of the story not only misses the point, but is a surefire way to make a movie that just doesn’t work.