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It Chapter 2: Reviews, trailers and everything else you need to know

Head down to the sewer with your red balloon, Pennywise the creepy clown is coming back. Here's everything we know.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
5 min read
New Line Cinema

Stephen King's It crawled back onto the scene in 2017, when the first of two movie remakes came out. The second film, based like the first on King's 1,100-page 1986 bestseller, isn't a sequel -- it's a continuation of the plot, taking place 27 years after the first film. For It Chapter 2, members of the Losers Club from the first film have been recast with adult actors, though the young actors will also appear in flashback. 

Early reviews

Here's a look at some of the reviews that have already been released for the film, including CNET's own.

The sequel trap

"While It Chapter 2 brings their story to a conclusive and largely satisfying end, it disappointingly walks right into the same trap as many sequels. Bloated with story ideas, characters and, most noticeably, running time -- not to mention excessive CGI -- Chapter 2 is at times harder to hang onto than an escaping balloon."    -- Jennifer Bisset, CNET

Kudos for the cast

"The casting of the grown up versions of each character is very impressively done, with James McAvoy and Jay Ryan seeming to be the standouts -- but that might be because their characters bear the most striking resemblance to their younger counterparts. Meanwhile, Bill Hader pours an impressive amount of heart into the film, despite being forced to try to add the comic relief endlessly, a task which lands most of the time."    — Brandon Davis, ComicBook.com

First film was better

"The decision [to split the book into two movies] paid off beautifully for Chapter 1, transforming the cerebral novel into a Goonies-flavored coming-of-age adventure with a cast of magnetic, scrappy, lovable kids who faced off against a monster and learned all sorts of lessons about life, love, and friendship along the way. In Chapter 2, however, the cracks in the concept begin to show, and ultimately, the final chapter fails to maintain the spark of the first, succumbing to a dangerous cocktail of muddled timelines, poorly placed novel call-backs, and scattered focus."    -- Meg Downey, GameSpot.com

Nearly three hours is too long

"So what's the problem? For starters, It: Chapter Two is an ass-numbing two hours and 50 minutes. That's a good half-hour longer than Chapter One, proving the adage that less is definitely more. The dragging pace diminishes the film's ability to hold us in its grip. There are endless flashbacks to the characters as kids, as if director Andy Muschietti and screenwriter Gary Dauberman didn't trust the audience to have seen the first film and decided to squeeze the highlights into this one just in case."    -- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Trailers and teasers

A featurette released in early September includes some of the stars briefly talking about their roles.

On Aug. 15, an IMAX teaser came out featuring plenty of blood and scares.

The final trailer for It Chapter 2 debuted at San Diego Comic-Con ahead of its online debut. 

A teaser trailer released in May focuses on a grown-up Bev Marsh, played by Jessica Chastain, as she learned that sometimes, you can't (and shouldn't) go home again. 

Release date, production info

The movie was filmed in the Toronto area in the late summer and early fall of 2018. Canadian film buffs took photos of the action and shared them online. In August, the Northumberland News shared a shot of Pennywise perched on the shoulder of a Paul Bunyan statue in Memorial Park in Port Hope, Ontario. Paul and Pennywise make for a disturbing duo to be sure.

The film opens Sept. 5 in Australia and Sept. 6 in the U.S. and U.K. 

Cast: Who's who?

Plot news, rumors and theories

Readers know what happens: The plot is no secret to anyone who's read King's terrifying novel. The Losers Club of misfit kids who fought killer clown Pennywise learn he's back 27 years later, and they're the only ones who can attempt to stop him. The King novel wove the two age groups together, but the movies separate out the kids fighting Pennywise in the first film from their adult versions doing the same (with some likely flashbacks). And there were some changes to King's novel in the first film, so there may yet be some surprises, even for loyal King readers.

Two grim scenes: Screenwriter Gary Dauberman told The Hollywood Reporter in May 2019 that two disturbing scenes from King's book would be included in the film. One involves a hate crime against a gay character whose attackers are being influenced by Pennywise, and the other involves a sad chapter in adult Bev's personal life.

More about Pennywise: Back in 2017, Bill Skarsgård told Metro UK this second film will explore his creepy character even more. "It's a different story," he said. "But I'm excited to delve in deeper to the character as there's more exploration for who Pennywise is." Specifically, the actor has discussed a disturbing scene showing a less-clown-like Pennywise in the 1600s that was shot for the first film and not used. 

Buckets of blood: Chastain appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in February 2019 and warned there's a scene that might contain the largest amount of (fake) blood ever spilled in a horror-movie scene. "The next day, I was like, pulling blood out of my eyeballs," she said.

Turtle time: In the book, the ancient turtle Maturin is seen as the creator of the universe. Though director Andy Muschietti was light on turtle references in the first movie, he told SyFy Wire to expect more in the second film. "I think in the second part, the turtle will try to help them," he said. "In the second movie, the turtle left a few clues to their childhood that they don't remember. They have to retrieve those memories from the summer of 1989, and that's how we jump back to 1989."

The most terrifying Stephen King creations of all time

See all photos

This story was first published in August 2018 and is regularly updated.