7:25am PT by Pamela McClintock
Weekend Box Office: 'It' Scares Up Massive $123M U.S. Bow
There is nothing clownish about New Line Cinema and Warner Bros.' It, which grossed a massive $123.1 million from 4,103 theaters in its North American box-office debut over the weekend. The horror film is also a hit overseas, launching to record $62 million from 46 markets for a global start of $185.1 million.
On Sunday, It's opening weekend was an estimated $117.2 million, but a better-than-expected Sunday pushed the number higher. Warners was being cautious Sunday because of Hurricane Irma, and the beginning of the football season.
The R-rated film adaptation of Stephen King's novel — about a group of misfit kids in the 1980s who battle the demonic Pennywise the Dancing Clown — jolted the domestic box office back to life after seven straight down weekends and the worst summer in recent memory.
It shattered numerous records, including landing the biggest start ever for a horror pic and for a King adaptation. And it's the biggest bow ever for the month of September, not to mention narrowly passing Spider-Man: Homecoming ($117 million) to score the third-best domestic debut of the year so far behind Beauty and the Beast ($174.8 million) and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($146.2 million). The movie's Friday take alone was bigger than the previous September crown holder, Hotel Transylvania 2, which pulled in $48.5 million for the three days.
Put another way: It, directed by Argentine filmmaker Andres Muschietti (Mama) and costing a modest $35 million to produce, turned into a movie for all audiences and not just younger horror fans. Roughly 65 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 25. The genre can often skew heavily female, but males turned out in force this time (49 percent).
"Pennywise has certainly brought big dollars back to the movie theater, and not a moment too soon," says comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian. "Let's face it, people love horror movies, and within the darkened walls of a movie theater, the communal electricity that is created by a bunch of people being scared out of their wits is almost as fun as the movie itself; this is why the film has obliterated expectations and is setting records."
It's massive Friday haul of $51 million almost matched the opening weekend of Paranormal Activity 3 ($52.6 million), which was the previous record-holder for top horror-pic launch.
Muschietti's film follows the success of another horror tale about misfit kids that's set in the '80s, the Netflix original series Stranger Things.
It, starring Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise, also made news on the R-rated front. It is the second-biggest opening for an R-rated film behind Deadpool's three-day debut of $132.4 million, while its massive $51 million Friday actually beat Deadpool's $47 million.
"Every now and then, you get it right. Every now and then, you get it wrong. And then every now and then, you get it absolutely right," Warners domestic distribution president Jeff Goldstein said. "The source materials is really creepy and really fun. And let’s give kudos to our marketing group."
It had been projected to bow in the $65 million-$70 million range in North America, which still would have been a record. One wild card this weekend was Hurricane Irma, which resulted in more than 175 Florida theaters closing Saturday and dinging overall box-office revenue by about 4.5 percent, while It could have lost out on as much as $5 million.
Internationally, It also scored the biggest opening ever for a horror title, led by the U.K. ($12.3 million). Imax theaters turned in $10 million globally, including $7.2 million domestically.
Thanks to a dazzling $70.8 million debut in China, Spider-Man: Homecoming won the weekend overseas for a global cume of $822.8 million. Homecoming scored the third-biggest China debut for a superhero pic behind Marvel and Disney's Avengers: Age of Ultron ($115.8 million) and fellow Marvel/Disney title Captain America: Civil War ($93.6 million).
The weekend's other new nationwide offering was the romantic comedy Home Again, starring Reese Witherspoon. Hallie Meyers-Shyer directed and wrote the movie, with her mother, filmmaker Nancy Meyers, producing. Home Again underwhelmed with an estimated $9 million from 2,940 theaters to place No. 2. Open Road Films is distributing the pic.
Lionsgate's The Hitman's Bodyguard fell to No. 3 after topping the box office for three weekends. The action comedy, starring Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson, took in another $4.9 million for a domestic total of $64.9 million to date.
New Line's horror film Annabelle: Creation came in No. 4 despite competition from It, earning an estimated $4 million from 3,003 locations for a North American cume of $96.3 million.
The Weinstein Co.'s Wind River rounded out the top five with $3.2 million for a domestic cume of $25 million.
At the specialty box office, 9/11, a new drama starring Charlie Sheen, fell flat, grossing an estimated $162,540 from 400 theaters for a dismal location average of $406.
Sept. 8, 12:05 p.m: Updated to include early Friday estimates.
Sept. 9, 7 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers and revised estimates.
Sept. 10, 7:30 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Sept. 11, 7:10 a.m. Updated with final weekend numbers.