'It' scares up a record-breaking opening


The last few weeks, in typical late August/early September style, have been a dull time at the box office, with a relatively small number of films opening in wide release and those that did—like Tulip Fever, Leap! and Birth of the Dragon—mostly underperforming. Moviegoers were hungry for something good to see… and they got it with Andy Muschietti’s It, a Warner Bros./New Line release. The Stephen King adaptation surfed a wave of critical praise and audience desire to be scared out of their wits by a creepy murder clown to a record-breaking, expectation-shattering opening weekend.

It’s $117 million opening is the largest of any September film, any fall release, and any horror film. It’s also the second highest opening for an R-rated film, behind only last year’s Deadpool ($132.4 million). On top of that, it (also It) had the highest per-theatre average of the weekend by far, to the tune of $28,552. This despite the fact that movie theatres across Florida—which typically accounts for some 6% of the domestic box office—were closed all weekend due to Hurricane Irma.

Add in international numbers, and It has earned $179.1 million worldwide against an estimated $35 million budget. As expected, New Line is already pulling together behind-the-scenes talent for the sequel.

Down—way, way down—in second place is Reese Witherspoon rom-com Home Again, which opened to $9 million on just shy of 3,000 screens. The rest of the top five went to holdovers: The Hitman’s Bodyguard (weekend gross $4.8 million, total gross $64.8 million), Annabelle: Creation (weekend gross $4 million, total gross $96.2 million) and Wind River (weekend gross $3.2 million, total gross $25 million). That last film upped its screen count by 288 in its sixth week.

The Charlie Sheen-starring 9/11 opened in a modest 425 theatres, pulling in $120,500 for a per-theatre average of only $284. Faring better on the PTA front was Rebel in the Rye, starring Nicholas Hoult as famously reclusive author J.D. Salinger, which earned $44,280 on four screens. Also out in limited release were China Lion release Twenty Two ($20,000 on 11 screens) and The Orchard’s Trophy ($3,474).