By now, a pretty large percentage of you have already seen the “IT” movie — judging by the film’s record breaking $117 million box office haul over the weekend, and reports of multiple sold-out screenings all over the Bangor area, you flocked en masse to see everyone’s favorite demonic clown. Which is why we don’t feel bad now about dropping some serious spoilers in regards to something most Mainers will want to know about: the many references to real-life Bangor in the fictional Derry of the movie.
Here are all the references we could find. There are likely more, and if you eagle-eyed constant readers notice them, please — let us know!
The Paul Bunyan Statue
In the book, young Richie Tozier gets terrorized by Derry’s Paul Bunyan statue, when it comes to life, animated by Pennywise. In the movie, that doesn’t happen — but we do see the Paul Bunyan statue. Unfortunately, it’s not our Paul Bunyan statue. It’s a rather strange looking facsimile. Nevertheless, it’s a reference to a real-life thing in Bangor. You can find photos of it in the link below, which goes into detail about the Canadian town that stood in, for the most part, for Derry.
When I saw “IT” in the theater last week, the crowd stirred when the Standpipe — our Standpipe! — appeared in the movie. In the book, there’s another Pennywise encounter at the massive water tower. In the movie, it only appears in a brief clip, digitally moved to an entirely different location. But it’s there! And it’s clearly ours. As we know, a camera crew was in Bangor last year, getting B-reel of Bangor to use strategically in the movie. This must have been one of those shots.
Composite shots of downtown
This one is a lot harder to pinpoint exactly, but when you see the movie, if you know downtown Bangor, you’ll absolutely recognize certain storefronts in the film’s many scenes of Derry’s downtown. The filmmakers, likely using the same footage shot last year in Bangor, used some digital wizardry to zip in those storefronts in between set pieces in the film’s Ontario shooting location. It’s hard to say what exactly is real Bangor, but trust us — you’ll know it when you see it. The result is a somewhat jarring composite of Bangor and something fictional. Like Derry, to be honest.
Richie Tozier’s Freese’s T-shirt
In the book, Richie goes to Freese’s Department Store — the real-life downtown Bangor version of which closed in the 1980s — to escape Henry Bowers. The store doesn’t make as much of an appearance in the movie, but true the film’s clever interweaving of various references to Bangor, Richie is seen wearing a Freese’s t-shirt in a major scene. You can see it here:
The Brady Gang
In the book, the real-life Brady Gang is referred to as the “Bradley Gang.” In the movie, it’s briefly referenced, with a mural that appears on a wall in Derry. And, I mean, come on. Look at the mural below (and please excuse the spelling — it’s not our link). It’s not exactly the famous image from the Brady Gang shooting, but it’s a near-perfect version of it. And does that street in the background not look just like Central Street in downtown? And was there not a Paramount Theater in Bangor, back in the day? And do we remember the giant Brady Gang painting that used to hang in downtown coffee shop Giacomo’s, which now belongs to the Bangor Historical Society? Boy, those faces look familiar. It’s just too bad we can’t see what newspaper that clipping was published in. Wonder if it was the Bangor Daily News.
Now, I’m sure there are other references — not to mention the multitude of fictional stand-ins for other real-life places, like the Barrens, the Quality Meat Market, the Canals, Bassy Park (the Kenduskeag Stream, W.A. Beans, the real-life canals and Bass Park, respectively). The movie is so densely packed with little references that it’ll take at least one or two other viewings to see them all. Did I miss one? I probably did. If you’ve seen the movie, please comment below. Happy hunting!