Stephen King’s ‘It’: Port Hope’s Transformation Into Derry And What It Reveals About Plot

Stephen King's 'It' Port Hope Ontario

Northumberland News is very lucky in that it is the local newspaper that covers the town of Port Hope, Ontario, where Warner Bros. chose to film its movie adaptation of Stephen King’s It. Because of that, it is always the first source to report news on the filming of the highly-anticipated flick. It is no surprise, then, that it gets a ton of media attention, including scores of backlinks from huge movie news sites and, in turn, bucketloads of extra ad revenue.

This is once again the case with the news that broke just a few hours ago from Stephen King’s It set, which the paper reports is seeing Port Hope’s downtown transformed into the downtown of Derry, Maine, the setting of Stephen King’s sprawling 1985 novel.

Filming is scheduled to begin in just a few days (July 11), and the crew, led by director Andres Muschietti, is giving the town a makeover to match Stephen King’s vision. Landmarks from the book are being erected, and, in some cases, elements from Stephen King’s tome, such as signs in front of shops, are replacing the signs that currently exists in Port Hope.

Northumberland News has even profiled 10 of the changes being made. Some of them, like the transformation of Avanti Hair Design to Tony’s Barber Shop, do not even pertain to Stephen King’s not-so-sleepy little town — there is no location called “Tony’s Barber Shop” in the book. That is not the case, however, with many of the changes. The very presence of most of the transformations reveal elements from the book that will be essential to the plot of the upcoming It iteration, and very few of them were addressed in the 1990 TV miniseries adaptation of Stephen King’s It starring Tim Curry.

We’ll go through a few of the transformations, and what they might reveal about the film’s plotline, below.

1. The Paul Bunyan Statue

In Stephen King’s original work, a large statue of Paul Bunyan, sometimes referred to in the book simply as “The Giant,” plays large part in the plot. The statue is located in the garden outside Derry City Center, and it terrifies the main group of protagonists, self-proclaimed “The Losers Club,” in King’s book. At one point, it even comes to life and nearly kills Richie Tozier, one of the group’s members. Much to the dismay of Stephen King fans, this memorable scene was not included in the 1990 retelling of Stephen King’s terrifying tale. It is good to learn that the upcoming version will stay a bit truer to King’s work and not shy away from showing certain iconic scenes — like the one where a statue comes to life — just because they require a bit more work to pull off.

2. Port Hope Town Hall Becomes Derry Public Library

As the Inquisitr predicted when the film’s shooting schedule was announced, Port Hope’s town hall (also known as the Municipal Building because Canada) will serve as a double for Stephen King’s imagined Derry Public Library, a favorite hangout of Ben Hansom and the place of employment for an older Mike Hanlon. The library was also present for the 1990 adaptation. In fact, it was the setting for what is possibly the TV movie’s most well-remembered scene.

3. The Movie Theater Marquee

The marquee on The Capitol Theater, Port Hope’s only cinema, usually displays the names of films that are currently playing or coming soon. For the next few weeks, though, it will display “Batman” and “Lethal Weapon 2,” both movies that are not current. Interestingly, though, they did not come out during 1985, the year in which Stephen King’s novel is set. Instead, they both came out in 1989. Does that mean the movie will be set in 1989? And if so, why the four-year time shift from the original setting? Regardless, the marquee change lets us know that the cinema’s exterior will be important to the plot. That is good to hear, as it is a spot where the Losers Club bonds in Stephen King’s book. Now the question is, when will The Capitol Theater Sign be changed to “The Aladdin Theater”?

4. Shop Names Are Changing

Many of the shopfronts in downtown Derry are changing the names they display out front to match the world Stephen King wrote about. For example, Ganaraska Financial has changed its signage to read “Montgomery Financial,” an empty storefront at 36 Walton Street changed to “Reliance Cleaners,” Queen Street Tattoo store front is now “Derry Scoop,” Gould’s Shoes Store replaced its sign with that of a butcher shop, and The Port Hope Tourism Centre put up metal lettering that reads “City of Derry.” Interestingly, none of the new shop names are actually locations Stephen King mentioned in his book. It is possible Muschietti and the producers just want to give the town a bit more of a retro Americana feel, which is something the book does very well, instead of the modern Canadian town feel it has currently.

5. American Flags

Speaking of giving Port hope more of an American feel, one of the changes is that the Canadian flags hanging from most of the downtown buildings have been replaced with American flags.

This new “Stephen King Land” in Ontario sounds amazing, and it would undoubtedly be an out-of-this-world day trip for anyone intimately familiar with Stephen King’s work, much of which is set in Derry. Let’s hope that immersive excitement crosses over to the film, which is set to released on September 7, 2017.

[Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images]