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Weekend Box Office: It Breaks Multiple Records in Monster September Opening

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By Chris Kavan - 09/10/17 at 07:23 PM CT

The movie It was always going to be a huge hit, but even the most favorable forecasts (which were floating around the $75 million mark) fell well short of the absolutely monster opening for the film. It broke a number of records (which I will detail below) but, more importantly, it finally got the box office out of its August/Labor Day slump. Yes, the rest of the box office was pretty dead - with It making up 75% of the total, but it was still good enough to provide a major bump after over a month of diminishing returns. WIth It, and another horror title in Mother! next weekend, the box office looks to be in much better shape as September rolls right along.

1) IT

How big did It open? Let me count the records from the $117.2 million debut: The biggest opening for an R-rated horror film - easily topping the $58 million Hannibal brought in back in 2001 (even accounting for inflation - would bump it to $91 million, it still blew it away). Also, depending on your definition of "horror" - It was record-breaking across all MPAA classifications. A record September/October opening - doubling the openings for Hotel Transylvania 2 ($48 million - September) and Gravity ($55 million in October). The best single-day gross for an R-rated film with its $51 million on Friday and also the best Thursday preview for an R-rated film with $13.5 million - both topping last year's record holder Deadpool at $47 million and $12.6 million. If you don't include its Thursday numbers, Saturdays $45.6 million actually topped Friday in terms of pure numbers. Best R-rated debut over a non-holiday/long weekend - topping the $88 million set by Logan. Heck, even most long-holiday films struggled to keep up with the clown. If not for the threat of Hurricane Irma, it might have opened even bigger - and Monday numbers could nudge it up - we'll have to see what the final tally brings. The best opening for a Stephen King adaptation - by a mile - topping the $71 million for 1408. It will also have no problem topping The Green Mile ($132 million) to become the highest-grossing Stephen King adaptation of all time - and if it wants to play the inflation game, it has to reach $232 million, which I don't think will be an issue considering its opening. It's $7 million IMAX opening is also the biggest for any September release and also the biggest for any horror film. And, with a $35 million budget, It is the lowest-cost film to hit $100 million in its opening weekend, making 3.5x its budget in three days. It is also the biggest R-rated opening for any film based on a book, topping the $85 million for Fifty Shades of Grey. Whew! Audiences awarded the film an "B+" (a rarefied high score for a horror film), while it sits a comfortable 87% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience was split almost evently between male and female while 65% came in over 25 (and 10% under 18 - as if the young need any more reason to fear clowns). It's an impressive debut no matter how you look at it and some have even said the film could rise to $120 - $125 million in adjusted Monday figures. We'll have to wait on that, but for an R-rated horror film that clocks in at over 2 hours, this is nothing short of a miracle and finally, finally King gets the adaptation he deserves and one the audience can get behind. I decided to wait on watching this but, believe me, I'm ready to float too. Oh, and the film earned $62 million overseas, including record horror openings in the U.K. ($12.3 million), Russia ($6.7 million), Australia ( $5.9 million), Brazil ($5.6 million), Netherlands ($1.4 million) and Poland ($1.15 million). The question now is how high can It go? I have a feeling about as high as a red balloon can float.


Reese Witherspoons romantic comedy also opened this weekend and took the second place spot - only about $110 million below the opening for It. With a $9 million debut, which is about on par with Bridget Jones' Baby ($8.6 million) from last September. That films went on to gross a shade over $24 million but, without any clear competition, Home Again should hopefully be able to perform better than that misguided sequel. Home Again scored a "B" Cinemascore - not a ringing endorsement, but not a terrible score, either. It didn't earn great reviews, however, but its slight $15 million budget means it should at least turn a minor profit. It's only going to be a blip on the September radar, but it gives people who don't enjoy murderous clowns a decent choice.


The de facto box office champ for the dead days of summer slumped down to third with a 54% gut shot, but with $4.85 million in the bank, The Hitman's Bodyguard is still sitting nice at just under $65 million. It is still on track to become Samuel L Jackson's best film (in a lead role), not adjusted for inflation, which, in a late summer full of unforgettable films, is a pretty good result on its own. The film actually held up pretty good in the face of such an overwhelming opening and is still looking at a total of around $75 million.


As a horror film going up against another horror film, Annabelle: Creation did well, dropping 46.7% and adding another $4 million to its total, which now stands at $96.26 million. This horror film will soon become the only August release to top the $100 million mark on the domestic front. With $280 million worldwide, it has already topped the original Annabelle ($256 million) as it sets its sight on The Conjuring and its sequel ($315-$320 million). It managed to top the film in its opening weekend - maybe King needs to come up with his own cinematic universe that brings together his biggest fears (note - I totally came up with this idea, and if it happens, I want credit - and possibly a walk-on role and/or producer title on any upcoming projects).


The only existing film to add theaters to its count (288 to be exact), Wind River dropped 48.5% to round out the top five with $3.21 million. The film topped the $25 million mark - just barely, but it got there. The reservation murder mystery starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen will soon pass Hell or High Water ($27 million) and is one of the better-performing films from The Weinstein Company and, hell, who knows, maybe it will get a few awards-season hits for its trouble.

Outside the top five: Once slated for wide release, but dipping in to limited release territory with in just 425 theaters, the 9/11 film starring Charlie Sheen, Whoopi Goldberg and Gina Gershon, could only muster up $163,000 for a frankly horrific $402 per-theater average. Considering how reviled the trailer was, I guess this is not so surprising, but one wonder what twisted mind thought this was a good idea in the first place.

Spider-Man: Homecoming earned $70.8 million in its China debut, which pushed it to $823 million worldwide, besting the $821 million of the original Spider-Man and also topping Wonder Woman ($816 million). If China holds out, it could ultimately top $900 million worldwide.

If you haven't got your horror fix yet, next week brings us the release of Darren Aronofsky's Mother! as well as the action film American Assassin and the thriller All I See is You.


It was adjusted on Monday to a final tally of $123.1 million - adding to the records broken and, with the additional $6 million, broke another record for the biggest gap between first and second place movies (92.9% to be exact).


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