Box Office: 'The Nun,' 'Crazy Rich Asians' Fuel Near-Record September Revenue

Martin Maguire/Warner Bros.
'The Nun'

Other movies contributing to the bumper crop include 'Night School,' 'The House With a Clock In its Walls' and 'A Simple Favor.'

A year ago, the big-screen adaptation of Stephen King's It earned a record-shattering $286.6 million in the month of September alone, fueling the biggest September of all time at the North American box office.

No one in Hollywood thought that achievement could come close to being repeated, considering the month is traditionally considered a sleepy one at the multiplex following the crush of summer movies.

But thanks to a diverse bumper crop of films and strong holdovers — versus a Goliath like It — September 2018 managed to hit near-record levels, with total ticket sales clocking in at $660 million, according to comScore. That's down just 6 percent from the $699 million collected in September 2017 (the third-best September was in 2015 with $616 million).

The performance of early fall has continued to bolster the overall gain at the yearly box office, with revenue up 8.4 percent over the first nine months of 2017, and 3.5 percent ahead of 2016. At this rate, 2018 could ultimately eclipse the record $11.4 billion earned in 2016 at the domestic box office.

Stats for the September international box office aren't yet available, but foreign revenue for the year is running about 5 percent ahead of 2017.

Leading the September assault was New Line and Warner Bros.' The Nun, which has earned $109 million since its Sept. 7 debut, becoming only the second September title behind It to cross the $100 million mark in the calendar month, not adjusted for inflation. Globally, the film has collected $330 million, the biggest showing ever for any title in the Conjuring universe.

Next up in terms of biggest September domestic performers is Jon M. Chu and Warner Bros.' hit rom-com Crazy Rich Asians, which debuted in mid-August and collected $71 million in September (its domestic total is $165.7 million). Never before has an August title done such big business in September.

Fox's The Predator, opening over the Sept. 14-16 weekend, is No. 3 in terms of top September earners ($47.6 million). Overall, however, the reboot has been a disappointment.

Conversely, A House With a Clock In its Walls and particularly Paul Feig's black comedy A Simple Favor, starring Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively, have done better than expected. House With a Clock, from Amblin and Universal, has earned $44.8 million in its first 10 days domestically, while Lionsgate's Simple Favor has grossed $43.1 million since launching Sept. 14.

The final weekend of the month was up more than 15 percent over the same frame last year, thanks to the $28 million debut of Malcolm D. Lee's comedy Night School, starring Tiffany Haddish and Kevin Hart, and the $23 million opening of Warner Bros. animated family film Smallfoot.

From Universal and producer Will Packer, Night School nabbed the best debut for a comedy since Girls Trip — likewise from Lee, Packer and Universal — opened to $31 million in summer 2017. The weekend's No. 2 pic was Smallfoot, which launched to a solid $23 million.

"Just a month ago, few could have imagined that September of 2018 would come within $40 million of last year, which was powered by the unprecedented strength of juggernaut It," says comScore analyst Paul Dergarabedian.