The new adaptation of Stephen King’s “It” is finally in theaters, but the story onscreen may be a little different than the one you remember from King’s novel. Director Andy Muschietti took a few creative liberties, but don’t worry: Pennywise the Clown is still terrifying.
Needless to say, many spoilers lie ahead. So don’t read this any further if you don’t want to know about some of the differences between King’s nearly 1,200-page novel and the film, which stars Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise the Clown, who does battle with seven Losers played by Finn Wolfhard, Sophia Lillis, Jaeden Lieberher, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs and Jeremy Ray Taylor.
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Okay, final spoiler warning — and here we go. These are 10 differences between “It’ the film and “It” the novel.
1. The Years in Which the Story Begins
The novel “It” begins in 1957, when Georgie Denbrough’s boat slips into an open sewer near the intersection of Witcham and Jackson one rainy day in Derry, Maine. In the movie, the boat disappears in 1988, and most of the film takes place in the summer of 1989.
In the novel, Georgie’s older brother Bill and his fellow Losers reunite in the 1980s, 27 years after “It” first attacks them. The film sequel to “It” will find them reuniting 27 after 1989, close to the present day.
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2. The Underground Clubhouse
A major plot point of King’s book was completely omitted in the movie. In the book, the Losers build an underground clubhouse, mainly to hide from Henry Bowers and his bully friends. Shortly after the clubhouse is finished, Ben Hanscom tells everyone about a tradition in which Native Americans would burn smoke in a similar den to induce a vision. The friends decide to try it. Mike and Richie stay in the clubhouse the longest, and have a vision in which they see the origins of Pennywise — coming from the sky in something like a spaceship. This makes the Losers decide to try and kill the monster.
3. Ben Is The History Guru in The Movie
In the book, Mike brings a photo album from his father to the underground clubhouse. The pictures start to move and It makes an appearance. Through the photographs, he acquires lots of knowledge about the history of Derry.
In the movie, Ben is the historian, because he is the new kid in town and initially has nothing to do but hang out in the library. His whole room is adorned with pictures of the missing kids and pictures of Pennywise in historic photographs.
Also, in the film, Mike’s parents were killed in a fire. In the novel, only Mike’s father, Will, dies — and he dies of cancer, four years after The Losers defeat It for the first time.
4. Mummy/Werewolf/Bird Incarnations Were Omitted
It takes on the children’s fears and projects itself in the form of them. For Richie and others, It is a clown. For Eddie, It is a leper. In the book, It also takes on the form of a mummy, a werewolf and a giant bird. Those were completely left out in the film — instead, Stan Uris is scared of a distorted woman in a painting.
5. The Bloody Photograph
One famous scene of the book was also completely left out. Everyone in both the book and the movie have experiences that make them see that It is a threat. But in the book, Bill looks through a photo album his dead brother Georgie used to keep. When he gets to Georgie’s school picture, it winks at him. In the TV adaptation, the photo album starts bleeding.
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Later, Bill shows Richie the photo album. However, the picture is gone and instead is replaced by a photo of downtown Derry. The picture begins to move and Bill moves to touch it. Just before his fingers enter the picture, Richie pulls them out, only to discover they are cut up.
6. The Way Patrick Hockstetter Dies
Part of Henry Bowers’ bully gang, Patrick has a very gruesome death in the book. In the novel, Patrick, Henry, Victor and Belch are messing around at a local junkyard. Long story short, Patrick wants to dispose of the dead animals he keeps in a fridge, but is attacked by flying leeches, his greatest fear. It feeds on him. The Losers later encounter Patrick’s decomposing body in the sewer.
In the film, Patrick tries to track down Ben, who he thinks escaped into the sewers. Using his lighter and a spray can for light, he soon discovers zombie-like figures chasing after him, and he gets trapped. Before long, It discovers him and kills him.
7. The Orgy Was Left Out
Muschietti has talked about the reasoning behind leaving out the big group sex scene in which the Losers lose their virginity as a group to become strong enough to fight Pennywise in Derry’s sewers. It was left out of the TV adaptation as well.
“Well, I think the whole story… approaches the theme of growing up, and the group-sex episode in the book is a bit of a metaphor of the end of childhood and into adulthood,” he told Collider. “I didn’t think it was necessary because the story itself is a bit of a journey, and illustrates that.”
8. The Way(s) It Gets Hurt by the Losers
In the book, the Losers go to the house on Neibolt Street to confront It. They lure It out of the pipes in the bathroom and Beverly shoots It with a silver slug with a slingshot. I
But in the film adaptation, Pennywise is about to seriously hurt Eddie when Beverly penetrates Pennywise’s face with a metal rod, which causes him to retreat back into a well at the bottom of the house — not the bathroom pipes.
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Obviously, that’s not the end of the monster. In the book, they later enter through a pumping station where Bill tells the gang that he read about a ritual called Chud. In the ritual, the person is supposed to bite into the tongue of the shape-changing creature and tell jokes. The first to laugh is killed by the other. Bill uses this ritual in a way when coming face-to-face with It, but instead of telling jokes just stands up to the creature. This causes It great injury and it runs away.
In the film, the Losers all beat down on Pennywise until he gets a fatal blow to the head — and Pennywise retreats.
9. Henry (Presumably) Dies
In the movie, It urges Henry to kill his father and all the Losers. He follows them to the Neibolt house and attacks Mike while the others are already in the sewer. However, Mike prevails and pushes him down to the well. We can presume he died from that.
In the book, Henry confronts the Losers when they are adults. Henry attacks both Mike and Eddie, but Eddie kills him with a broken bottle. It is presumed It took over Henry’s body and planned to kill all of the Losers through Henry.
10. The Placebo Medicine
Eddie had been coddled by his mother for the majority of his life, and she tells him he suffers from many health problems. In the book, a pharmacist, Dr. Keene, tells him the drugs he takes are placebos, and that he was never really sick at all.
In the movie, one of the bullies that attacks Beverly frequently in school tells Eddie about the placebo — not the pharmacist.