There is basically no medium that Stephen King has not tried out, at this point. While the prime source material is typically his ever-growing oeuvre of novels and short stories, the body of work based on King’s nightmares encompasses blockbuster movies, television, student films, video games, progressive metal, lunch boxes, and even action figures. So it makes sense that he would get into the documentary game. As such, a behind-the-scenes examination of one of his most famous creations is set to premiere in the United States, titled Pennywise: The Story Of IT. While the film debuted last year at Spain’s Sitges International Fantastic Film Festival, it will be distributed by Cinedigm in North America. Directed by John Campopiano and Christopher Griffiths, the documentary delves into the backstory and genesis of Stephen King’s famed and fearsome gutter-clown/cosmic spider.
Pennywise: The Story Of IT promises to be a comprehensive look at how the 1990 ABC two-part adaptation of Stephen King’s novel created one of the most indelible images of modern horror. As portrayed by actor Tim Curry, the monstrous, child-eating clown instantly became a mainstay of popular culture, endlessly referenced, parodied, and imitated. The documentary will reportedly feature nearly every aspect of the development of the character, with interviews from Curry himself, the special effect and makeup designers, the casting crew, producers, and probably an intern or two from the set. If there is one kind of fan who likes comprehensive discussion and examination of their obsession, it’s probably Star Trek fans, but horror fans are right up there too. So this will doubtlessly be welcome to all the Pennywise aficionados out in the world.
Pennywise the Clown (or IT) first appeared in Stephen King’s 1986 novel of the same name. By that point, he was an enormously popular and successful author, whose books were already being turned into hit films like Carrie, The Shining, and Cujo. IT was a bold step in his bibliography, a nearly 1,400-page book with a two-temporality structure, and synthesized many of the horror elements of his previous books into one terrifying magnum opus. While critics were lukewarm at the time (many pointing out the outrageous length of the book and the still-controversial sewer sex sequence), it quickly became one of his major works. The television adaptation in 1990 brought it to an even wider audience, and the two-part film version directed by Andy Muschietti was released in 2017 and 2019 respectively to acclaim and high box office grosses.
There is never any shortage of Stephen King projects out there. Seriously, there are like ten films in production right now, based on his new and older works. But IT holds a certain place in his canon, and much of that has to do with the primal, terrifying of Pennywise himself. And since Tim Curry has been relatively reclusive since a stroke in 2012, it will be good to see him reminiscing about one of his greatest roles ever, as one of King’s greatest characters ever.