It’s been a tough year at the box office. The toughest in a decade, apparently. But it’s not all bad, because It is here to smash all kinds of records in an otherwise down year. It hit theaters this weekend and took in $117 million over the weekend, putting It in line with the opening of Spider-Man: Homecoming and behind only Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
In the process, It devoured a couple records. The previous record for the largest September debut was set by Hotel Transylvania 2 in 2015 with just $48.5 million according to Variety, and It had the biggest opening for a horror movie. The previous record for that belonged to Paranormal Activity 3 back in 2011. On top of that, It came pretty close to snatching the record for an R-rated opening from 2016’s Deadpool. The Merc with a Mouth still holds the record, though, with a $132-million opening weekend back in February of that year.
There’s a lot working against It
It had a couple advantages going into the weekend. It’s a Stephen King adaptation, and one of the author’s most famous stories. It also went into the weekend with a ton of positive buzz, including a currently 86 percent fresh ratting on Rotten Tomatoes. But It had a lot working against it, too. The other high-grossing movies of the year are movies like the aforementioned Beauty and the Beast and Spider-Man: Homecoming, as well as movies like Wonder Woman and Despicable Me 3. Purely by virtue of their rating, these movies all have the potential to pull in much bigger audiences than It‘s R rating allows it. Director Andy Muschietti and star Bill Skarsgård are also relatively untested. Variety even notes that the weather events occurring in parts of the country are keeping entire regions away from theaters.
It‘s estimated production budget was just $35 million according to Box Office Mojo. Even accounting for the advertising budget, the movie is still likely profitable already. Other horror movies like Get Out, Split, and The Emoji Movie have been doing well at the box office, too, so we can probably expect studios to start pushing harder on these movies. Warner Bros. distribution chief Jeff Goldstein told Variety that “if we’re able to find more films in [the horror] genre, we’d be thrilled to make them.”
With this huge opening, we’re expecting to see It among the highest-grossing movies of the year.