Writer talks It and Pet Sematary adaptations
David Kajganich has been talking about his work on the two remakes for Stephen King films It and Pet Sematary, novels of his that have already been adapted with It being a successful mini-series and Pet Sematary becoming a very creepy and very effective horror, if it was rather quietly received.
He's revealed that he's walked away from the Pet Sematary remake after the studio executives did their usual interfering, but that he's still on the cinematic It adaptation that will result in a film, not a mini-series, and that he's rather hopeful for it.
Speaking about Pet Sematary David Kajganich revealed that Paramount underwent a change of executives just when he submitted his first draft for the script, and then they came away with their usual rubbish:
”I was given a new executive who had creative ideas I just couldn’t stand behind...They wanted to appeal to younger audiences, so there was talk of making a teenaged Ellie the main character, and etc. It was really heartbreaking, but that’s how the process works sometimes.”
The comments come from Kajganich through Lilja's Library and Bloody Disgusting, and reflect the insane desire of the executives to make everything hit the highest demographic possible. Actually let me correct myself, it's not insane, it's good business sense. Good business sense if it wasn't involved in such a field as film where fans and critics can have such a huge impact on a film. I'm sure delivering a proper version of Pet Sematary would win a longer return than just sticking it out as a teen-friendly light hearted horror film. Okay the latter would give them the money quicker from opening weekend and more bums on seats over those few days on which far too much importance is based, but would it survive? I think a more faithful version would last in the cinema longer, gain revisits, and do much better when released on DVD and Blu-ray.
However that's not what happened and Kajganich negotiated with the studio who were happy to let him get out of the contract and they continued with the film. Except they didn't and it stalled, until we heard recently that it was being restarted with two new producers, however Kajganich knows nothing about that version and is still out of the production.
So onto happier things, and the fan controversial film version of It. I say that because fans are very faithful to the original mini-series and there's a lot of concern about squeezing all that down into a film. Not with Kajganich.
”In all of my talks with the studio, it has only ever been discussed as a single feature film. The book's length is clearly more suited to a mini-series—and I understand very well why they went that route the last time around—but I think the book’s content is really more appropriate for cinema. I told the studio from the beginning that I felt I needed to be able to write for an R rating, since I wanted to be as candid as the novel about the terrible things the characters go through as kids. They agreed and off I went.”
You could read that a few ways, there's a hint of perhaps a few films in there, or just one that Kajganich believes he can make out of all the material that's there and still be true.
”I think the biggest difference is that we’re working with about two-thirds the onscreen time they had for the miniseries. That sounds dire, I know, but it doesn’t necessarily mean two-thirds the amount of story. I’m finding as many ways as I can to make certain scenes redundant by deepening and doubling others. To me, this is an interesting process because it has the effect of thematically intensifying the whole, but it can lead to dramatic surprises. Certain scenes I thought would be crucial to the coherence of the whole ended up cut, while other scenes, which were somewhat cursory in the book, ended up being pivotal in the script.”
For me that's the fascinating part, talking about the process he's going through to make that film version work. What's most interesting is that he really sounds like he believes in it and can make it work, something I'm not sure we've heard from him or the fans before. Perhaps he really could do it? An It film version that's modern and more relevant without losing much from the original, and perhaps even being better.
On Pet Sematary though, don't expect much unless the new production team decide to offer Kajganich the role and stop trying to make it teen-friendly, however will their spreadsheets allow?
Update: Apologies I totally messed that article up in my previous write up and misread the story thinking it was from Stephen King himself. My mistake, apologies for that, and the story is now corrected.