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George Romero Almost Directed the 1990 Adaptation of ‘IT’?!

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Romero *almost* made more movies than he did make over the years.

You may remember that Cary Fukunaga (“True Detective”) was originally attached to direct this year’s feature adaptation of Stephen King’s IT – of course, that didn’t work out, which led to Andy Muschietti (Mama) being brought in to take over. Similarly, the man who was originally set to direct the ’90 mini-series dropped out after spending quite some time working on it.

That man? George freakin’ Romero?!

We tip our hats to Movie Pilot for bringing to our attention an interview with writer Lawrence D. Cohen that hit the website Coming Soon last year – we somehow totally missed the interview at the time, which is why we’re only now getting around to uncovering the juiciest little tidbit that was spilled in it. Cohen, who wrote the 1990 adaptation, recalled working with Romero on the project for nearly a year before Tommy Lee Wallace (Halloween 3) took over the reins!

Cohen explained to the site:

At that point, the sky was the limit – there was no restriction as to how many hours the miniseries was going to be – 8, 10, even 12 – and the guys already had George Romero in mind to direct. I thought he was a genius match for this particular piece. As the creator of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, he was an amazing talent in his own right, and given his prior King association with CREEPSHOW, he was a natural and sexy choice that further psyched me about wanting to do the project.

I then worked with Romero on the project for the better part of a year, and that was incredibly gratifying – to have the director who’s actually going to make the piece involved that early in the writing process, especially a director like George who also had a first-rate screenwriter’s mind. We both quickly and excitedly realized that the book lent itself to what was then the exact miniseries format – dividing up every night of two hours into seven acts, which turned out to be perfect because there were seven main characters in Steve’s story as kids and then as adults, and each could have his or her (in Bev’s case) own little act.

He continued, revealing why Romero left:

George and I worked on a “Bible” for the piece – laying out the entire story as a detailed blueprint with act breaks and everything. When we began, the plan was to run 10 hours. A little at a time, the network lost its nerve and cut back from 10 to 8 – which started to worry us. While many miniseries are too long and outstay their welcome, this was IT – a horror magnum opus that deserved – no, demanded – a marathon rather than a sprint. Four nights felt just about perfect – still an event – only for us to learn it would now be six. At that point, we lost Romero who felt we were diluting the heft of what made IT King’s IT – that if there ever was a case for more is more, IT was it!

Romero instead released Two Evil Eyes in 1990, a collaboration with Dario Argento.



  • Brando

    And of course went on to direct Stephen King’s The Dark Half!

  • pablitonizer

    Glad it didn’t happen! My respect for being the father of zombies or living dead, but I truly question his skills as filmmaker…

  • Fracassi

    My copy of The Stand states, “soon to be a major motion picture directed by George Romero.”

    • Brandon MisterJuicy Alexander

      haha i had this one too 😀

  • Khy

    I’d love to read that 10- hour blu-print. I’d like to know what they were going to include and how different it was going to be. Ten or even 8 hours would have been something epic. Sucks the Network got scared- I’m sure it wouldn’t have been cheap.

    • lostboy408

      Cost is probably why they kept cutting parts. The original miniseries got pretty screwed as the total of two parts only got a $1 Million budget. In the commentary, Wallace says something about trying to get more money from the studio, but they told him to take the money he already got or he didn’t get to make it at all. It’s pretty clear from Wallace’s standpoint was that ABC didn’t care about the project at all.

      To stretch the dollar to the most that they could, Tommy Lee Wallace moved the whole production to Canada.

      • Khy

        So unfortunate. Wallace did a great job with what he could, he really did. But to imagine what it could’ve been if ABC had more faith in the project- definitely could’ve been something grand.

        • lostboy408

          I agree 100%

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