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Movie version of IT ‘may be dead,’ Stephen King says

The planned two-film adaptation of Stephen King’s IT was expected to begin filming in three weeks, but now finds itself in limbo after True Detective director Cary Fukunaga departed the project over the weekend.

Fukunaga’s sudden exit from the highly-anticipated project is reportedly linked to creative differences with New Line Studios regarding the budget for the adaptation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The project has now been delayed indefinitely while the studio decides when — and more importantly, if — it will move forward.

Related: The remake of Stephen King’s IT has found its clown

Expected to span two feature-length films, Fukunaga’s adaptation would be the second page-to-screen transition for the 1986 horror novel, which followed a group of childhood friends who must reunite as adults to battle an evil entity they believed they had defeated as children. A two-part, three-hour television miniseries that aired in 1990 famously starred Tim Curry as the story’s iconic, nightmare-inducing demonic clown, Pennywise.

The modern adaptation had recently entered negotiations with The Maze Runner actor Will Poulter to play Pennywise across the two films, but the actor’s attachment appears to be uncertain now that the project has been delayed. Fukunaga co-wrote the screenplays for the two films with Chase Palmer and David Kajganich, and was also attached to co-produce the project in addition to directing both films.

The disagreement between Fukunaga and New Line reportedly stems from a large difference between the $30 million budgeted for the first film and the much-higher budget associated with Fukunaga’s early drafts of the film’s script.

After the news of Fukunaga’s departure was initially reported, Stephen King took to Twitter to offer his own assessment of the project’s status — and it wasn’t exactly optimistic.

With quite a bit of hype surrounding the project, there’s a good chance it will find a home somewhere else if New Line cuts it loose, or budget negotiations may result in it getting the green light once again.