If you've read the books or watched the miniseries, it's explained in there what IT is, i.e.

An extra-dimensional alien entity

But is this actually explicit in the 2017 movie? IT doesn't leave enough evidence or has enough witnesses, for example:

IT left no wounds like bite marks that can be directly attributed to itself (Eddie breaks his own arm from a fall, Georgie's corpse with bitten-off arm is never found). No adults can see IT; Beverly's father doesn't see the blood, the librarian doesn't notice the lights going off)

This makes other explanations possible, like that it is in the minds of the children, possibly brought on by their traumas in a form of mass hysteria, or that it's some other kind of supernatural phenomenon.

Is it ever made clear what IT is in the movie? And whether that matches what was in the novel?

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    You do realize this movie is only the first part, and that a sequel will be released in September 2019? – BCdotWEB Sep 28 '17 at 8:27
  • Regarding the details in your question, the movie left out a lot of things in the book. Or maybe they saved these for the second part. The movie did not explain the "alien entity" of IT. The movie did not mention about the bite marks. But yes the adult did not see IT. – nthtung Sep 28 '17 at 10:30
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    How do you know what the second movie is going to show? – congusbongus Sep 28 '17 at 12:08
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    The movie doesn't, but it does leave marks on bodies - It was biting Stan's face near the end and he had little teeth marks all over his face. I suppose any injury could be explained by something - even if they found Georgie, that could have been explained by some sort of animal attach (I think that's how it was explained in the book - I can't remember). – Phlegon_of_Tralles Sep 28 '17 at 12:23
  • Well, consider the book also has some kind of ridiculous pre teen group sex scene that was deliberately left out of the movie. While the 2017 remake didn't explain the nature of IT, we can expect that such an explanation isn't particularly critical to the story and if left out of the second half it is probably for good reason in that it, like the group sex scene, don't really do anything to advance the story. If anything, it could make it less scary, or presumably ridiculous. – Kai Qing Nov 10 at 0:00

As someone who has never read the books and only saw the 2017 movie - I interpreted "It" as each child's biggest fear because Pennywise could only be overcome when each child conquered their manifested fear.

It would be difficult to identify

An extra-dimensional alien entity

without a previous frame of reference for one.

In addition to the teeth marks mentioned by the other answer, the children did get to see remains of other children clearly defy the laws of physics as they floated in the sewers.

It may be a stretch but this could be an indication of IT's other-word origins.

I do look forward to the next chapter of the series to see what other background is provided for IT, especially if it's book nemesis will somehow help the Losers' Club (You do know about a certain Turtle, I assume)

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