'It' Movie Sequel Plans Move Forward at New Line

The studio is just starting to firm up plans for a second film based on Stephen King's massive novel.

Even as New Line prepares for the Friday opening of its much anticipated adaptation of Stephen King's It, the company is moving toward a second movie based on the massive horror novel.

Gary Dauberman, one of the screenwriters on the new It, has quietly closed a deal to pen the screenplay for its sequel, and Andy Muschietti, who directed the new film, is waiting in the wings to return.

Producers Barbara Muschietti, Roy Lee, Dan Lin, Seth Grahame-Smith and David Katzenberg are expected to return as well.

A sequel, or, as its being called, a Chapter Two, was almost never in doubt even if the involvement of some of the creative players was.

King's opus tells of a group of friends who band together to defeat their small town's demon — first as kids and then a second time as adults. While the book toggles between the young and older characters, New Line structured its adaptation so that the first movie focuses on the kids and is set in the past, with the second movie to be set in the present and will focus on the adults. (In the book, the past was the 1950s; the movie's past is the 1980s.)

The new version of It has been building massive awareness ever since the first trailer exploded to 197 million views across all platforms in its first 24 hours. When the movie appeared on box-office tracking sites in mid-August, it looked as if it was heading for a debut of more than $50 million. Now some box-office observers predict it may open to more than $60 million, an excellent number for a movie that has a budget in the mid-$30 millions. Reviews have been generally strong, with the movie currently sitting at a 90 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

But even as late as a few weeks ago, the creative team was not yet set to return.

On the writing front, the first movie is credited to Chase Palmer, Cary Fukunaga — who was only weeks from shouting "Action!" as director before leaving due to creative differences — and Dauberman. The latter came in after Fukunaga to retool the project, bringing in a fresh perspective just after Muschietti was hired. 

Dauberman has, in the last few years, become a New Line favorite, having written Annabelle and its hit sequel, this summer's Annabelle: Creation, as well as the upcoming The Conjuring spinoff, The Nun.

It is unknown if Chapter Two will call for the return of the first movie's young stars. Sources indicate that although the story will take place 27 years later, flashbacks may figure into the plot (just as they do in the book), and if those scenes are new, not repurposed ones from the first chapter, new deals may have to be struck with the rising stars. With no script in hand yet, New Line has not yet approached older actors.

New Line has not set a release date, although 2019 is likely, and if child actors are to be involved, the studio will have to move quickly before they grow out of the roles.

Dauberman is repped by ICM Partners, Lars Theriot at Industry Entertainment Partners, and Eric Suddleson at Felker Toczek.