UPDATE: The number has since grown to $123 million opening domestic, making a worldwide total of $185 million. The original article follows.
IT has smashed even the most optimistic box office predictions, breaking records and netting in over $110 million in its opening weekend domestically. You could tell the readaptation of Stephen King's novel was going to be a hit from the very first teaser, which not only promised a glossy prestige horror but easily smashed the record for most trailer views in the first 24 hours.
Despite that, early box office predictions were rather conservative, with pundits originally expecting it to land around the $60 million mark. It wound up doing that amount in a single day, which launched the expectations up into nine digits. But even those, it seems, were on the safe side; the weekend's total box office estimations are now in and IT's a bigger success than anybody expected.
According to Variety, the film is expected to make $117 million domestically over its opening weekend (including Thursday previews). Other sites report slightly higher numbers (The Wrap makes it $123 million) but all estimates have it over $115 million. The film also reportedly made an extra $62 million overseas, making a global opening of $179 million.
IT's cume breaks a lot of records, perhaps most seismically the biggest opening for a horror movie ever. What held it before domestically depends on your definition of the genre (there's debate over how the likes of I Am Legend and Hannibal count) but none of its competition at home or worldwide has even come close (the biggest previous out-and-out horror opening in the US was Paranormal Activity 3 with $52.6 million). It also stormed past the previous record for any September release (Hotel Transylvania 2 on $48.5 million) and also October for good measure.
Some records remain unbeaten. The film fell just short of Deadpool's $132.4 million opening, the largest ever for an R-rated movie. This has been chalked up to a box office lull caused by the recent hurricanes in Houston and Florida. Still, it wasn't far off, setting the stage for a lucrative box office run; this is the third highest first weekend of the year, behind only Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, both of which passed $800 million. How high IT can go depends on what impact fresh releases like mother! and Kingsman: The Golden Circle have over the rest of the month, but its stellar reviews should give it legs.
After all, IT hasn't just beaten records - it's doubled on them. There's a lot of lessons to be learned here. For one, IT is a powerful property and Chapter 2 is going to be a major event when it arrives in 2019. But it also shows the benefits of a slow-burn marketing campaign heavy on tease and reaffirms that you don't need A-list talent in a horror film to have it connect with mainstream audiences. Although perhaps the biggest lesson is budget. IT cost a mere $35 million - 17.5% of what Guardians 2 cost - meaning its profitability is through the roof; it's already made back five times what it cost.
This is good news for Warner Bros. and Andy Muschietti, but also the industry in general. Despite a range of good films, the 2017 box office has been seriously down - last Labor Day weekend was the worst since 1999 - so a mega hit like this (a genre one at that) shows there is still a way to get people out in droves.
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