Stephen King’s IT is projected to easily top the domestic box office during its second weekend in theaters. Following a sluggish summer movie season, IT became an instant savior for Hollywood studios and theater owners last weekend, pulling in a record-setting $123.4 million in its opening frame.
Also setting all-time records for horror movies (including the biggest horror opener ever) and daily records for Mondays and Tuesdays in September, the film juggernaut is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon – even though its competition is starting to escalate.
According to THR, IT is projected to take the domestic box office crown again this weekend with an estimated $50 million or more in ticket sales. It appears that the trade publication is allowing itself a bit of wiggle room with its projection this time around, since it and other box office pundits pegged IT to open in the $50 million to $60 million range last weekend. However, in a performance that took nearly everybody aback, IT defied all expectations and nearly doubled its projected take.
IT’s chief competition this weekend is expected to be director Darren Aronofsky’s horror thriller mother!, which according to pre-release tracking numbers was expected to open in the $12 million to $15 million range. Given the unpredictability surrounding IT, THR believes the film – starring Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem as a married couple whose house is besieged by strangers – could actually open lower than originally projected.
Both films, after all, are in the horror genre in a plot with psychological overtones and conceivably mother! could suffer because of it. While IT is a box office blockbuster that is expected to pass the $200 million mark domestically by the end of the weekend, fans shouldn’t get the numbers confused with those usually associated with tentpole releases. In fact, IT and mother! hardly presents a case of apples and oranges, since IT had a production budget of $35 million, while mother! was produced for $30 million.
While Warner Bros. stands to gain considerably by IT’s box office bonanza, mother! has a lot more at stake, even with a $30 million production budget. While the numbers have yet to be reported, the R-rated Paramount production still has to account for the amount the studio has spent on marketing the film, as well as any potential back-end percentage deals in place for Aronofsky, Lawrence and Bardem.
Despite generating early critical praise, another thing seemingly working against mother! is the film’s title, at least according to Jeff Bock of Exhibitor Relations, who tells THR:
“Having Jennifer Lawrence front and center should help the bottom line, but the multiplex masses will still likely stay away from this film with a strange title. In other words, mother! is a tough sell, despite the pedigreed cast.”
Other pundits don’t seem to have as much faith in the box office prospects of mother!, either. The Los Angeles Times cites analysts who say the film should open in the $10 million to $15 million range, $2 million less than the low end of pre-release tracking estimates. The publication also says the film’s other wide opener – the big screen adaptation of the late Vince Flynn’s best-selling novel American Assassin – should also debut in the $10 million to $15 million range this weekend. Like IT and mother!, the Lionsgate/CBS Films-produced American Assassin in rated R.
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