How ‘Stranger Things’ Was Inspired By ‘IT’

Drew Dietsch
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Stranger Things is returning for its second season. Fans are excited to return to the town of Hawkins, Indiana and see their favorite characters again. However, those same fans probably got a quick fix of ’80s horror nostalgia earlier this fall thanks to Stephen King’s IT.

And that’s not by chance. In fact, Stranger Things wouldn’t even exist if the creators hadn’t been unable to make a feature adaptation of IT. That’s right. The Duffer brothers almost did their own version of the classic horror novel.

The Pitch

stranger things duffer brothers netflix
Matt & Ross Duffer are the brains behind 'Stranger Things.'

The Duffer brothers were a hot item thanks to their first script, Hidden, being the focus of an intense bidding war between studios. Warner Bros. won that script and the Duffer brothers decided to take advantage of being at that studio. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Duffer brothers talked about how they approached Warner Bros. with a pitch.

Unfortunately, Warner Bros. turned them down. The job went to True Detective director Cary Fukunaga and eventually changed hands to Andy Muschietti. But, it got the Duffer brothers thinking about how they would do the story on their own.

The Change

The first thing the Duffer brothers considered was updating the era to the 1980s. They also were trying to figure out how to do such a big story within the time constraints of a feature film. So, they figured they could make multiple films in order to give the narrative enough room to breathe.

These changes ended up becoming inspirations for both the Duffer brothers and Warner Bros. Studios. The studio took those changes and made them part of the eventual film. But, the Duffer brothers took these ideas and expanded them into something original.

The New Story

Eventually, they came up with the show that would be called Stranger Things. They drew upon the story of IT and other Stephen King works to make something original. The parallels to IT are fairly clear: a group of young friends band together to fight an evil monster in a small town that’s hiding its fair share of secrets.

But, the Duffer brothers decided that they could fit more inspirations and story into the project if it was a television series instead of a movie. So, they pitched the project to Netflix and were given total creative control over the show. Considering that many Stephen King fans have wanted IT to be done as a long-form miniseries, Stranger Things has proven why that format has such an advantage for certain stories.

We wouldn’t have Stranger Things if the Duffer brothers had made their version of IT. Now, we have both a brand new property to fall in love with and an excellent adaptation of an older one. Sometimes, things really do work out for the best.

Drew Dietsch
Drew Dietsch has written for CHUD.com, the News-Press, WhatCulture, and releases a weekly film review podcast, The Drew Reviews Podcast. He'll yak your ear off about horror movies, Jaws, RoboCop, and/or Batman if you let him.
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