What Do Harrison Ford and a Homicidal Clown Have in Common?

In both cases, teasers for “It” and “Blade Runner 2049” generate hype through the use of their central figures. One relies on the charisma of a weathered Harrison Ford. The other hinges on the apparitions of a nightmarish clown.


An image from the trailer for “It.” The promo aims for a mix of nostalgia and novelty to reach longtime fans and new ones.

Warner Bros.

“IT” A red balloon, a monstrous circus freak and a sewer drain: These are the symbols that the “It” trailer deploys to spine-chilling effect. They also quickly recall Mr. King’s novel and the mini-series — which allows the teaser to build suspense while exciting existing “It” fans.

“It,” in case you’re still wondering how a two-minute preview could keep a 28-year-old reporter up at night, follows a group of kids who investigate the mysterious disappearances of other children in their town. Ultimately, they end up in conflict with Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard), a homicidal clown who preys on children.

Pennywise appeared just four times in the March teaser, and those visuals are spaced out, keeping you watching for the clown’s next turn. The monster’s first entrance simply whets the appetite. A small boy chasing a paper boat peers into a storm drain, where, out of the shadows, a clown with a devious grin pops up for only a second. It’s a classic jump-scare that quickly introduces fear into the trailer. Still, that tiny glimpse of Pennywise is just enough to make uninitiated viewers want to know what they just saw, while hinting to “It” fans what they’re about to see more of.

The trailer’s centerpiece is instructive because the scene deviates from Mr. King’s book. A slide projector starts to advance on its own. The score builds, the screams increase, and Pennywise’s face, partly obscured, finally appears. In the novel, a similar moment involves a photo album. By staging the reveal of the villain at a big moment of deviation from the film’s source material, the trailer is wisely playing to all audiences: confirming to novices that a clown is, indeed, the source of all this terror, but also signaling that “It” will retell a familiar story in a distinct, innovative way from its predecessors.

Pennywise’s final appearance, in the last seconds of the teaser, hits a similar note. In a flooded basement, the demented clown peeks his head…

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