Warning: This post contains spoilers for "It: Chapter Two."
Warner Bros.' "It" was a monster of a movie in 2017. The adaptation of Stephen King's 1986 novel of the same name broke the record for a horror movie's opening weekend box office with $123 million in the US. It went on to gross $700 million worldwide off of a $35 million production budget.
A sequel was inevitable after its success, but it was also designed that way from the start.
King's nearly 1,200-page novel follows the Losers Club, a group of kids in the town of Derry, Maine, who are hunted by an evil, supernatural being called Pennywise (played once again by Bill Skarsgard), who haunts them in the form of a clown. It flashes between the characters' young and adult selves, who are separated by nearly three decades. For the film adaptation, the novel is brought to life in two parts, the first following the characters as kids and the second following them 27 years later.
"The success of the first one didn't condition me in terms of what kind of movie I wanted to make for the second round," director Andy Muschietti told Business Insider during an interview. "I am aware of the success, but I tried to keep cool and not let the external expectations or pressure interfere."
The success did afford "It: Chapter Two," which hit theaters on Friday, a higher budget. Muschietti didn't disclose exact numbers, but he said it was double that of the first, which puts it around $70 million.
"We built a story that required a bigger budget because I really wanted to do justice to the scope of the book," Muschietti said. "But we didn't start with a budget, we started with a script. My intention was to stay true to the spirit [of the book], and I would have made a bigger movie with Chapter One if I had more money."
Part of the book's spirit are those two separate timelines, Muschietti said, and that was essential in telling "Chapter Two's" story.
"I wanted to define the function of the flashbacks, and not just throw in vague character moments," Muschietti said. "I wanted the flashbacks to be integrated in the main plot and move the story forward, informing us of where the childhood traumas of these adults started, and what they have to face to overcome that."
What did — and didn't — make the cut
In the book, the town of Derry is destroyed after Pennywise is defeated. Even with a higher budget, Muschietti didn't see that as being essential for the movie. Instead, the house where the main characters confront Pennywise collapses.
King himself did have some suggestions for Muschietti. For instance, in the book, Richie is chased by a giant Paul Bunyan statue, which wasn't originally in the script. After King got a look at it, he asked that this scene be included, according to Muschietti.
"I wanted him closer this time," Muschietti said of King. "We started talking after he saw the first one and having this dialogue. The relationship became tighter. I shared the script with him to see what his thoughts were. And he was very receptive to all of it. He just wanted to see some scenes that weren't there. One of them was Paul Bunyan attacking Richie [ laughs]. But he requested it in a very respectful way and it wasn't a mandate at all."
That's not the only way King was closer to "It: Chapter Two." He appears in the movie in a cameo as the owner of an antique shop, which Muschietti said was easy to set up.
Another blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo is Brandon Crane, who played the young Ben in the 1990 "It" TV miniseries. Crane appears during the scene that introduces Jay Ryan as adult Ben in "It: Chapter Two." Crane is listed as "Big Guy" for the movie on his IMDb page.
"You think that's going to be Ben if you don't know [who's playing him], but it's not," Muschietti said.
There was one major cameo Muschietti said he chased but couldn't land: his friend and fellow horror filmmaker Guillermo del Toro.
"It: Chapter Two" is in theaters now.