Weekend Box Office: ‘IT’ Floats To the Top

After enduring the horror show known as the 2017 summer movie season, the North America box office roared back to life this weekend thanks to an actual horror film: Warner/New Line’s IT.

The $35 million adaptation of the 1986 Stephen King novel, IT opened Friday on 4,103 screens where it scared up a massive $117.2 million in estimated ticket sales. Depending on where the actual weekend numbers land on Monday, IT’s opening may wind up being the biggest box office debut since Guardians of the Galaxy Volume Two opened with $145 million this past May.

The daily breakdown for IT was $51 million for Friday – which includes the $13.5 million from Thursday night previews, – $45.6 million from Saturday and an estimated $20.5 million from Sunday. Nearly two-thirds of the opening weekend crowds for the big screen debut of Pennywise were over the age of 25. A little more than half of the crowds were female.

IT broke several records this weekend: biggest September opening, biggest opening day for an R-rated feature, biggest all-time opening for a horror film and biggest opening to date for a film adaptation of a Stephen King novel. Friday’s total alone was more than the $48 million earned to date for another King adaptation, The Dark Tower.

Deadpool still holds the title for biggest opening weekend for an R-rated feature with a $135 million in February of 2016.

While IT’s effective marketing turned the opening weekend into something of an event, strong feedback should be the key into turning the horror film into one of 2017’s biggest hits. Critics gave the Andres Muschietti film an 87% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a 71/100 on Metacritic while ticket buyers graded IT a “B+” on CinemaScore.

The film also began its international campaign this weekend in 46 markets, where it earned an estimated $62 million.

The massive opening for IT during an otherwise quiet time of the year was a bit unprecedented. Normally on the weekend after Labor Day, the top film in the country would be a turkey lucky enough to open near the $10 million mark before scurrying off to home video. Basically, a film like the Open Road Films offering Home Again, which landed in second place with a dismal $9 million from 2,940 screens.

The Reese Witherspoon romantic comedy was torpedoed by bad reviews -32% approval on Rotten Tomatoes and a 43/100 from Metacritic- and a marketing campaign that made it look far scarier than IT. Ticket buyers who ventured out to see Home Again were indifferent to the Hallie Meyers-Shyer effort. They gave the film a “B” on CinemaScore.

The rest of the top ten this weekend was summer leftovers winding down their theatrical runs. Last week’s number one film, Lionsgate’s The Hitman’s Bodyguard, scored an estimated $4.85 million from 3,322 theaters in its fourth weekend to bring its overall total to $65 million. A $75 million final is a possibility.

Warner/New Line’s Annabelle: Creation held rather well given the arrival of IT. The acclaimed horror prequel only lost 47% of its Labor Day weekend crowd to land in fourth place with an estimated $4 million from 3,003 theaters. Creation’s new total is $96 million. It should cross the $100 million milestone by the end of next weekend, making it the only August release to reach that milestone.

Rounding out the top five was The Weinstein Company’s Wind River with $3.2 million from 2,890 theaters. Off 48%, the Jeremy Renner drama has scored $25 million to date.

  1.  Leap! (Weinstein) $2.5 million (-48%); $15.9 million
  2.  Spider-Man: Homecoming (Sony/Marvel) $2 million (-45%); $328 million
  3.  Dunkirk (Warner) $1.95 million (-55%); $183 million
  4.  Logan Lucky (BEST) $1.83 million (-59%); $25.2 million
  5.  The Emoji Movie (Sony) $1 million (-57%); $82.5 million

Next weekend, the action flick American Assassin and the new Darren Aronofsky thriller mother! arrive on the scene. Neither will come close to the second weekend of IT, which should approach the $200 million mark by next Sunday.

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