Author Stephen King laughs during a press conference Tuesday, Aug 1, 2006, in New York. King and fellow authors J.K. Rowling and John Irving are appearing together on August 1 and 2 to read from their books as a fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders and The Haven Foundation. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Back before “It” was the mystery invention that let the world down by turning out to be a scooter for rent-a-cops, it was also the title of a Stephen King novel legendary for its girth. “It” belongs in that pantheon of astoundingly long novels (like “War and Peace” and “Infinite Jest”) that both attract and repel you with their daunting thickness. I’ve always wanted to read a novel as long as “It,” largely so I can tell people I read a novel as long as “It.” It’s not so much a book as it is a trophy, a blue ribbon for being a crazy good reader.
Novels like “It” are rarely adapted into feature films, due to their obvious difficulty. “It” was turned into a miniseries a long time ago. It featured Tim Curry as a bloodthirsty clown and that alone is enough to make you lose sleep. But now comes word that Warner Bros., for whatever reason, is venturing to try and make King’s opus into a feature film. In fact, they hired screenwriter David Kajganich to write an adaptation of the book. From Cinematical comes Kajganich’s own feelings about trying to pull off the feat:
I knew the studio was committed to adapting It as a single film, so I went back and reread the novel to see if I thought this was even possible, and to try to find a structure that would accommodate such a large number of characters in two different time periods, around 120 pages, which was another of the studio's stipulations.
He reread the novel? Well, now he’s just bragging. Anyway, condensing a 1,100-page novel into a 120 screenplay can’t be an easy task. Kajganich will likely be forced to trim everything but the killer clown part, because that killer clown is so important, you see.
I’ll be interested to see if anything comes of this adaptation. Obviously, Warners wouldn’t commission a script if they didn’t plan on making a move out of “It.” But part of me is tempted to think of this as a cheap experiment on their part, and that a final product may never see the light of day. After all, scripts are commissioned all the time. Most of them never reach the screen.
But, like the book itself, there’s something alluring about a project as massive and ambitious as “It” coming to the silver screen. It’s a scary idea to read an 1,100-page novel, and its a scary idea to see the movie it would produce. Not as scary as a killer clown, but there you go.