As if the world didn't already have a clown complex, Warner Bros. created a funhouse fan experience to celebrate the release of IT Chapter Two. We had a chance to visit, and it was a scary good time.
Following the success of the IT Experience Chapter One last year, where visitors got to explore the Neibolt House, this time Warner Bros. invited fans to the Derry Canal Days Festival, built by creative agency Experiential Supply Co.—complete with Ferris wheel, carnival games, and funhouse. And the fun didn't stop there, as the experience also took fans through some of the sets revealed throughout the marketing campaign.
Before we get to the photos, here's the trailer for the IT Experience Chapter Two, which is open through Sunday after a three-week run. (There's also a 360 video for a more immersive feel.)
It was a special experience, indeed. It begins in The Losers Club clubhouse. From there, fans are greeted by carnies in stripped red coats promising an experience you'll never forget. The next stop is the festival itself, and of course it's not a real carnival without games. They've got the classics like ring toss and water gun races—with an IT twist, of course. You can even take a ride on the Pennywise inspired Ferris wheel, if you dare.
When the games end, the real fun begins—in the funhouse. They keep it simple. To enter, you step through the mouth of a monstrous Pennywise and into a funhouse wheel that will have your world spinning. As you might imagine, the horror unfolds from there with a maze of mirrors and a room of clown-inspired punching bags that you have to dodge to reach the next realm. All the while, clowns and people dressed in camouflaged bodysuits come out of the walls to greet you.
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Then you move deeper into the town of Derry to some locales that have played a starring role in the marketing campaign—including Apt. 5, which you may remember from the teaser trailer. The set design was nearly identical.
The creep factor continues as you tour the Derry sewer system and enter rooms filled with Jack-in-the-boxes that pop open one-by-one, somehow managing to scare you every time. Then, just when you think you've survived, Pennywise the Dancing Clown pops in to say hello.
More pics here:
We've seen recently how the marketing of popular I.P's can backfire. But Dana Nussbaum, evp of media at Warner Bros. Pictures, says what's challenging about working with a popular I.P. is also what's exhilarating about it.
"You feel a responsibility to live up to the source material," she tells Muse. "In this case, we're working with this incredible film that was based upon a beloved book and the finale of a property that people feel so connected with. We felt a responsibility to build something that lived up to that and was truly immersive, but also very iconic."
That's why they picked the funhouse theme.
"It was inspired by a key moment in the film and also allowed us to take something that feels very familiar and safe and turn it on its head a bit," Nussbaum says. "Many people have visited a funhouse before, but no one has visited one quite like this—until now! We wanted the experience to ring true to the spirit of the film, so it was designed to be equal parts nostalgic and terrifying and keep you guessing each step of the way.
As all good experiential does, the IT Experience Chapter Two has gotten the internet buzzing, as fans share photos and videos from the many photo-ops throughout, causing a widespread case of FOMO.
"Experiential offers us, as marketers, the ability to create a deeper, more personal connection with our audiences, and allows audiences the unique opportunity to engage with our films in a meaningful way and have a physical touchpoint with them," Nussbaum says. "With the IT Experience: Chapter 2, we are inviting you to step inside the world of Derry and feel the tension that exists within the film and the environment and really immerse yourself in that. The ability to do that allows audiences to engage in a way that is truly unlike any other medium. It’s very unique in that way."
I can confirm it was a hell of an experience that I won't soon forget. The takeaway from this activation—a lifetime of nightmares. Still, well worth it.
IT Chapter Two floats into theaters today.