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HBO Max Will Revisit the World of Stephen King's It in Welcome to Derry

The prequel series will explore the dark history of what King calls "Maine's most haunted city."
  • Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in It, Chapter Two (photo: Everett Collection)
    Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise in It, Chapter Two (photo: Everett Collection)

    In a change of pace from its recent trend of canceling established shows, HBO Max today announced plans for a new series, even if the subject matter is very familiar. The streaming platform is moving ahead with a prequel series to the It movies that's currently titled Welcome to Derry. Based on the 2017 and 2019 films — which in turn were based on Stephen King's blockbuster 1986 novel — the series will likely delve into the dark history of the fictional Derry, Maine, where It takes place.

    Welcome to Derry is being developed by sibling filmmakers Andy Muschietti and Barbara Muschietti, as well as Jason Fuchs, who served as a co-producer on It, Chapter Two. The Muschetti siblings released a joint statement about the project, saying, "As teenagers, we took turns reading chapters of Stephen King’s ‘IT’ until the thick paperback fell to pieces. ‘IT’ is an epic story that contains multitudes, far beyond what we could explore in our ‘IT’ movies. We can’t wait to share the depths of Steve's novel, in all its heart, humor, humanity and horror." Emphasis on the "horror" part.

    King's 1,138 page novel begins with the 1957 death of young Georgie Denbrough at the hands of Pennywise the Clown, one of the avatars of "It," the demonic entity that has existed beneath Derry and emerges every 27 years to feed. Even over the course of two feature films — both of which were directed by Andy Muschetti — King's expansive history of Derry and the ways in which It manifested and wreaked havoc on the population over the years couldn't fit into the main narrative. Which means there is plenty of meat left on the bone when it comes to fleshing out a prequel series.

    "I’m excited that the story of Derry, Maine’s most haunted city, is continuing," said King in a statement, "and I’m glad Andy Muschietti is going to be overseeing the frightening festivities, along with a brain trust including his talented sister, Barbara. Red balloons all around!"

    The Welcome to Derry news comes after weeks' worth of HBO Max cancellations, most recently the Chicago-set comedy South Side, which had run for three seasons. Other shows to get the chop include the Gossip Girl reboot, the Batman spinoff series Pennyworth that HBO Max inherited from Epix (now MGM+), and both Titans and Doom Patrol, which will end after their current seasons.

    Joe Reid is the senior writer at Primetimer and co-host of the This Had Oscar Buzz podcast. His work has appeared in Decider, NPR, HuffPost, The Atlantic, Slate, Polygon, Vanity Fair, Vulture, The A.V. Club and more.

    TOPICS: Welcome to Derry, HBO Max, Andy Muschetti, Barbara Muschetti, Stephen King