According to notices posted by the town of Port Hope, Ontario, this week the sequel to the 2017 horror blockbuster “IT” begins filming in the Canadian town, which is the cinematic stand-in for Stephen King’s fictional Maine city, Derry. The first film was shot in Port Hope, which is about 30 miles outside of Toronto, in the summer of 2016, and the second film will shoot in many of the same locations throughout July and August 2018. A Sept. 6, 2019 release date has been set for the movie.
Now, we here in Bangor — which we are proud to dub the “real Derry” — are also justifiably proud of our status as the inspiration for the setting of what’s arguably King’s most famous book and subsequent movie.
Similarly, a Port Hope resident identified only as Chris is also proud of his town’s status as another kind of Derry. Chris has for the past three months been posting images of Port Hope under the Instagram handle Discover Derry — as if it was a tourism board for the city of Derry.
“I’m a lifelong Stephen King fan who grew up in Port Hope, and got a kick out of seeing familiar streets and hangouts portrayed as Derry,” he said. “I thought it’d be fun to explore the town and share it with fans of the novel/film.”
As residents of the Bangor region, we here at the Bangor Daily News can’t help but compare and contrast the two places: Bangor, as the “real” Derry, and Port Hope, as the “movie” Derry. With help from the Discover Derry Instagram page, we’ve picked out a number of spots from both to showcase.
Bangor Public Library/Derry Public Library
One of the first iconic locations in the film is the Derry Public Library. It’s where Ben Hanscom begins to deduce the true nature of whatever it is that’s kidnapping kids in Derry, and the scene of a memorable encounter with Pennywise.
In Port Hope, the stand-in for the library is Port Hope Municipal Hall. In Bangor, we have our beautiful and nationally renowned Bangor Public Library — a longtime beneficiary of Stephen and Tabitha King’s generosity.
State Street Bridge/Main Street Bridge
In Bangor, the State Street Bridge over the Kenduskeag Stream carries with it a legacy of tragedy, as the site of the 1984 murder of a young gay man, Charlie Howard. King picked up on that, with one of the earliest scenes in “It” echoing that horrific crime. In Port Hope, it’s the Rene Racine Bridge, which carries Walton Street over the Ganaraska River.
Kenduskeag Stream/The Barrens
The Barrens are the playground and main staging area for the Loser’s Club plot to defeat Pennywise, and in the movie, Patrick Hockstetter is killed by the monster there. In Port Hope, the stream and surrounding areas are played by the Ganaraska River — while in Bangor, we of course have the Kenduskeag Stream.
The Paul Bunyan Statue
Here’s an example of a cinematic stand-in that left many Bangor viewers of the film groaning (though it’s worth noting the filmmakers added this in, rather than it already being an established feature of Port Hope).
The Paul Bunyan statue in the film is a pale imitation of Bangor’s mighty, broad-shouldered, grinning mascot. In fact, he looks like another rather wimpy-looking statue: the Paul Bunyan statue in Bemidji, Minnesota, which, while older than our Paul, is far less imposing and attractive. Want to argue with us, Bemidji and/or “IT” producers? Bring it on.
If you’re familiar with Bangor, the first time you watched “IT” you probably did a handful of double or triple takes when you saw the first shots of Derry’s Main Street. It’s really like a bizarro version of Bangor — probably because the filmmakers digitally stitched together shots of actual Bangor with shots of Port Hope. The real-life street is called Walton Street, a historical thoroughfare that throughout the shooting of both movies has been altered to look like the fictional Main Street of Derry.
Bassey Park/Bass Park
In the book, Bassey Park is where Ben Hanscom encounters Pennywise for the first time. In the movie, it’s where the young Loser’s Club hangs out at some sort of town festival, where the town band plays and, of course, a creepy clown greets kids.
In Port Hope, Bassey Park is Memorial Park, also home to a bandstand and various statues and festivals. Bassey Park in Bangor is, of course, Bass Park, where prior to 2011 the Bangor Auditorium was located, the Bangor Band played and many city events were held. Today, it’s still home to the harness racing track and the Bangor State Fair, but the spot is now dominated by the Cross Insurance Center, which opened in 2013. Will the second installment of “IT” show how Derry has progressed, as Bangor has?
The Tarratine/The Bangor House/The Derry Town House
The Derry Town House appears in the books as an upscale inn for travelers. In Port Hope, the stand-in building is known as Hotel Carlyle. King himself has said he was inspired by the Bangor House, a former grand hotel in downtown Bangor that decades ago was turned into an assisted living facility. In the film, the Derry Town House actually looks more like the Tarratine, an ornate mansion and event center on Park Street that was the former home of a 19th century gentleman’s club.
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