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How The Black Phone "steered around" Stephen King's It

Screenwriter C. Robert Cargill describes the genesis of new horror movie The Black Phone, and how he had to "steer around" Stephen King's It.

  • Posted on 21st Jun, 2022 12:04 PM
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How The Black Phone "steered around" Stephen King's It Image

New horror movie The Black Phone hits screens this week, and the film’s journey from book to script to screen has been fascinating. Based on a short story by Joe Hill – the son of Steven King – screenwriter C. Robert Cargill explains how he had to “steer around” King classic It, and also reveals why he was initially hesitant to adapt the work. 

“Usually when Scott and I do stuff we try to avoid direct influences and try to steer around them… in this case, one of the big things we had to steer around was It. When we first gave the script to him, Joe loved it. He was over the moon. But then he was like, “When I wrote this story 15 years ago my Dad’s book It had been out for over 20 years and clowns weren’t a big deal, but now It has been remade, the character being a clown will feel too much like we’re borrowing so can we change that?” and we were like, “Of course we can, but to what?””

Turning a clown into a magician

How The Black Phone "steered around" Stephen King's ItEthan Hawke as the magician Grabber.

Luckily for Cargill and Derrickson, Joe Hill already had a replacement in mind.

As Cargill explains: “Joe said, “Well I’ve always been obsessed with the idea of an old-school magician who did a duel act where he was dressed for half the act as the magician, then he was dressed like the devil. Can we do something like that?”

“We were like, “Yeah, that’s really cool, that’s much better, let’s do that.” Which led to the evolution of Scott coming up with masks, and the film became better as a result of trying to avoid being like It.”

The Black Phone is in UK cinemas tomorrow, and hits US screens on June 24.

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