Creepy Clown Floats To the Top of the Box Office

After a dismal August -and that is putting it mildly-, the month of September got off a far better note for the North America box office as Warner’s highly anticipated IT: Chapter Two debuted to monstrous numbers.

The success of the 2017 movie adaptation Stephen King’s classic novel IT took everyone by surprise. Not only did the Andy Muschietti-directed feature open to a head spinning $123 million on what is normally one of the worst weekends of the year, it was also a favorite with both critics and the public. Despite telling only half of the story found in King’s massive novel, IT finished its domestic box office run with $327 million and an additional $392.9 million overseas, all off of a $35 million budget and a terrific marketing campaign.

Two years later, Muschietti, Pennywise and the Losers Club are back to finish the tale. IT: Chapter Two arrived Thursday night on 4,570 screens where it scared moviegoers out of an estimated $91 million. While a spectacular start, the opening figures for the $80 million sequel were down 26% from IT’s record-setting debut. Even so, the opening for Chapter Two is nothing to dismiss. Not only is it the second-biggest opening ever for a horror film and for the month of September, it also provided a desperately-needed shot in the arm for both a box office that continue to lag behind last year’s numbers and a studio coming off a disastrous summer rife with box office bombs such as Godzilla, King of the Monsters, Shaft and The Kitchen.

The daily box office breakdown for Chapter Two was $10.5 million from Thursday night previews, $26.9 million from opening day on Friday, $33.6 million on Saturday and an estimated $20.15 million for Sunday.

Several factors may have contributed to IT: Chapter Two’s lower opening. First and foremost among them, it’s a sequel. Sequels lack the benefit of being something new and exciting, two big factors that helped turn IT‘s opening weekend into a bit of an event.

Issue two? The film’s marathon 169-minute runtime. While a three-hour runtime didn’t hurt Avengers: Endgame one bit this past summer, it also wasn’t an R-rated horror sequel. Any late night audience erosion Endgame encountered during its theatrical run was compensated by strong turnout for matinees on the weekend by families. It doesn’t quite work that way for a film like IT: Chapter Two as audiences for horror films tend to show up at night. If theaters have to schedule their latest showing for something like IT: Chapter Two no later than eight or nine pm due to runtime, that is going to be problematic for the film’s ticket sales.

Then there are the reviews. Yes, reviews tend to be a non-issue when it comes to the horror genre. Most fans just don’t bother with them, period. However, positive ones can be beneficial in helping bring in those who normally don’t go to the theater to see a horror film. The positive notices bestowed upon last year’s Halloween helped draw people in, and they certainly helped the first IT. Unfortunately for Chapter Two, the mixed notices from the nation’s scribes might have the opposite effect.

In comparison to the 86% approval earned by the first film, Chapter Two received a middling 65% on Rotten Tomatoes. On Metacritic, the new film’s score of 58/100 was slightly below the original’s 69/100. One place the sequel didn’t lag behind was with ticket buyers polled on CinemaScore. They gave Pennywise’s return a “B+,” which is the exact same grade given to the first film.

Debuting in 75 markets overseas, IT: Chapter Two delivered with a $94 million opening. The top markets for the sequel were Mexico with $10 million, the United Kingdom with $9.4 million, Russia with $8.8 million, Germany with $7.1 million and Italy with $5.5 million.

Outside of the IT sequel, the rest of the top ten was a case of box office table scraps. Lionsgate’s Angel Has Fallen descended 49% in its third weekend on 3,229 screens to earn an estimated $6million. Angel’s overall gross now stands at $53.5million. The film is still aiming to finish around the $65 million mark.

Universal’s Good Boys continued to provide laughs in its fourth weekend on 3,193 screens where it earned an estimated $5.4 million. Off 43% from its holiday earnings one week ago, Good Boys has earned $67 million after one month. A final near the $80 million mark is possible for the $20 million comedy.

Disney’s The Lion King roared 39%less this weekend in fourth place, which resulted in an estimated $4.2 million from 2,610 theaters. Now entering its second month in the top five, the Disney blockbuster has earned a regal $529 million so far. Overseas, Simba has banked $1.069 billion so far.

Rounding out the top five with $3.75 million from 2,153 theaters was Sony’s faith-based drama Overcomer. Down 34%, Overcomer has delivered $24.7 million after three weeks of release.

  1.  Hobbs and Shaw (Universal) $3.72 million (-42%); $164.2 million
  2.  The Peanut Butter Falcon (Roadside) $2.276 million (-25%); $12.2 million
  3.  Scary Stories To Tell in the Dark (Lionsgate) $2.275 million (-54.5%); $62 million
  4.  Ready or Not (FoxSearchlight) $2.23 million (-62%); $25.6 million
  5.  Dora/Lost City (Paramount) $2.1 million (-47%); $54 million

Next weekend sees the arrival of STX’s Hustlers and Warner’s The Goldfinch. Hustlers should have a solid bow, but it won’t be enough to unseat IT: Chapter Two.


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