Stephen King's creepy cool 'It' obliterates box-office records with $117.2M
LOS ANGELES — It is a hit.
The Stephen King adaptation has earned a record-breaking $117.2 million from 4,100 locations, according to studio estimates on Sunday.
Not only is It now the largest opening for a horror movie ever and the largest September opening of all time, the film more than doubled the earnings of the previous record holders. Before this weekend, Paranormal Activity 3 had the biggest horror opening with $52.6 million from 2011, and the highest September debut was Hotel Transylvania 2's $48.5 million in 2015.
"We blew past everyone's most optimistic and aggressive projections," says Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution. He says his Sunday projections were conservative because of the film's R-rating, the popularity of late-night showings, the beginning of football season and Hurricane Irma.
It's success is astounding, especially considering that the project from director Andy Muschietti cost only $35 million to produce.
Starring Bill Skarsgård as the homicidal clown Pennywise, It is the first of a planned two-part series.
With no discernible competition, save for the counterprogrammed opening of the Reese Witherspoon rom-com Home Again (a very distant second with $9 million), It was able to dominate.
"Suddenly, September is on the map with its first $100 million debut," comScore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian says. "Every month of the year is a potential hit-maker and this is really good news for an industry that for the last six weeks has been in the doldrums."
It is just the latest example of a film that defies old logic about when potential blockbusters should open. Before Star Wars: The Force Awakens, no December movie had ever opened with more than $100 million, for instance, and the same went for February until Deadpool proved that to be antiquated thinking as well.
The success of It also comes after an underperforming summer season that left the year-to-date box office down 6.5% from last year. Now, with the It factor, 2017 is down only 5.5%.
"If there are good movies that are out there, the public will embrace them and be excited to see them. If we come up with movies they are not interested in, they stay away," Goldstein says. "This is a movie they wanted to see."
The overwhelming dominance of It made the rest of the charts look downright anemic. Rounding out the top five: Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson's action buddy movie The Hitman's Bodyguard (sliding to third place with $4.9 million), horror movie Annabelle: Creation ($4 million) and the Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen thriller Wind River ($3.2 million).
But a monster hit like It does have the potential to spur moviegoing momentum.
"September will be the August we wish we had," Dergarabedian says. "We could be looking at a record-breaking month after an abysmal summer."
Final numbers are expected Monday.
Contributing: Kim Willis