This sums up why IT will probably end up being the most successful Stephen King adaptation ever. A movie like THE MIST was very good, but nowhere near the audience pleaser that IT turned out to be. Personally, I doubt that a “better” movie would have had such mass appeal. For a long time now, horror movies have been saving studios’ bottom lines when their big-budget films flop. In terms of profit for every dollar spent, horror films like The Conjuring, Sinister, Insidious, Lights Out and Don’t Breathe recently have been far more profitable than even the Marvel superhero movies. Superhero films make a lot more but they spend a whole lot more to do it.
In the end, IT has more appeal for a wider audience than most of the other movies in the same genre. The characters are bland, but likable. It’s very lean as far as character development and every scene makes sense to the story being told, but doesn’t add anything more than it needs to. I imagine there was a lot that was cut simply because it didn’t relate in some way to the central conflict with Pennywise. At the same time, go back and watch Poltergeist and you’ll see the same approach. Everything is related to the haunting with the Freeling’s essentially revealing their character by what they do in the running time of the movie. Honestly, in any movie, there really isn’t any reason to know who the characters are outside of what they do in the movie. Their actions on screen define their characters.
I think IT will change the way that studios look at horror films and their place in the cinema. It is a movie that works for a much broader audience than even most horror films today, and it didn’t have to spend much more to do it.