Fukunaga Will Get A Second Chance To Adapt His Childhood With EXPLORERS Series
Anyone who follows me on twitter knows that I love a good “What if?” scenario. I’m a sucker for exploring Hollywood’s hypotheticals when it comes to someone who was either in talks or even attached to a project before ultimately bailing on it. The possibilities of “What might have been” tend to haunt me, especially when it’s an artist and a property that I thought would’ve been a great fit. Such is the case with director Cary Fukunaga and Stephen King’s It.
Upon watching the first season of HBO’s True Detective, starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, Cary Fukunaga immediately became one of my favorite directors. I was obsessed with his visual style and his ability to dig deep into the souls of his characters, instantly raising the stakes of the story being told. So when it was announced he’d be tackling Stephen King’s It, I was on Cloud Nine. And his approach sounded fantastic. He was writing it with a partner, and it was going to be broken into two movies: One when the Losers’ Club were kids, and the other when they’re all grown up- similar to what the old ABC miniseries event did.
Part of what fascinated me about that was Fukunaga’s personal approach to the material. In articles about what he was working on, he mentioned pouring a lot of himself into the script, and was looking forward to telling the “coming of age” story that the first film had every intention of being. I was really intrigued to see how the filmmaker was going to infuse the tale of these misfit kids with his own personal recollections of childhood, and how he’d pair that with all the horrific trappings of a Stephen King story.
So imagine my sadness when it was announced that he exited the project over clashes with Warner Bros./New Line.
In a discussion with Variety about his exit from the project, Fukunaga would say this:
“In the first movie, what I was trying to do was an elevated horror film with actual characters. They didn’t want any characters. They wanted archetypes and scares. I wrote the script. They wanted me to make a much more inoffensive, conventional script. But I don’t think you can do proper Stephen King and make it inoffensive.”
“We invested years and so much anecdotal storytelling in it. Chase and I both put our childhood in that story…. I wouldn’t want them to stealing our childhood memories and using that. I mean, I’m not sure if the fans would have liked what I would had done.”
So yeah, that stung to hear.
But now, here we are three years since his departure from It– which went on to be a phenomenon anyway, thanks to Fukunaga’s replacement Andy Muschietti- and it sounds like Fukunaga has found a new coming of age story from the 1980s to bring to life: Explorers.
The cult classic Joe Dante film starred Ethan Hawke, River Phoenix, and Jason Presson as three teenagers who come together to build a spaceship. The original Explorers was hacked to bits in a tale that’s, unfortunately, as old as time. The studio opted to rush the film out instead of giving Dante a chance to finish it the way he envisioned it. Thankfully, though it bombed in theaters it still achieved cult status and holds a special place in the hearts (and in the VHS collections) of those who saw it.
Now Fukunaga and partner David Lowery (The Old Man and The Gun, which our critic Tony Artiga was pretty fond of) are partnering to write and produce a TV series based on the film. They’re said to be writing the pilot for the show, which is still in the very early stages of development, as well as the overall bible for the story they want to tell with it. It’s expected that Fukunaga or Lowery will direct the pilot if Paramount picks it up.
That’s assuming it doesn’t conflict with his biggest gig ever: Directing Bond 25.
Are you excited for an Explorers series that’s written, produced, and- at least partially- directed by Cary Fukunaga?
You can currently see his work on Netflix’s series Maniac, starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone.
Editor-In-Chief and Co-Founder of Revenge of The Fans. Previously, he's written for Latino-Review, IGN, Moviehole, and The Splash Report. He's also the host of the top-rated show The Fanboy Podcast and the co-host of The Revengers Podcast. E-Mail: MFR@RevengeOfTheFans.com | Twitter: @I_AM_MFR