Cary Fukunaga
Cary Fukunaga, pictured at a 2011 benefit at the Sundance Institute in Beverly Hills, has quit New Line's film adaptation of Stephen King's "It." Reuters

Pennywise the Clown may indeed return to the big screen to inspire new nightmares in New Line’s adaptation of Stephen King’s “It,” but director Cary Fukunaga will not be the man behind the camera. The “True Detective” Season 1 director has left the project just three weeks before filming was set to begin, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The reason for the split was reportedly a disagreement between Fukunaga and New Line over the money needed to adapt the famous horror story. New Line had set a $30 million budget for the film, but Fukunaga’s drafts of the script and vision for the movie were more expensive. The director eventually decided to walk when an agreement could not be reached.

“It” tells the story of seven misfit kids, known as the Losers Club, who are terrorized by a demon clown – Pennywise – who preys on their greatest fears and phobias. Stephen King published the novel in 1986 to commercial and critical success. “It” was later adapted into a TV mini-series in 1990 starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the Clown.

Fukunaga had seemed excited about the project during a panel discussion at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April.

“I think there’s this tremendous amount of optimism when in pre-production about you can accomplish,” Fukunaga told the audience, then eight weeks from the scheduled start of filming.

The director also shared the scene that still haunts him from the 1990 TV mini-series.

"The image I always see is the image that I saw when I was 12 – that white face in the sewer, and poor little George getting sucked into the ground. I haven’t really gotten past that part,” Fukunaga told the crowd.

Will fans ever see a new “It?” Only time will tell. The project has been pushed indefinitely as New Line searches for a replacement for Fukunaga.