erik lundegaard

Box Office: Stephen King's 'It' Grosses A Lot

The Losers Club in "It"

The Losers Club in “It”: losers no more. 

On Friday afternoon, contemplating the release of “It,” the 2017 movie based on the 1986 Stephen King novel, and which almost assuredly got greenlit in April 2016 because of the huge buzz for Netflix's upcoming Stephen King-inspired TV series “Stranger Things,” I tweeted the following:

It was a joke. But after the success of “It” this weekend, it feels like less of a joke.

Some background. There are only three months in the calendar year that have not seen a movie gross more than $100 million opening weekend: January (best: “American Sniper,” $86m), October (“Gravity,” $55m), and September (“Hotel Transylvania 2,” $48m). September is a month, generally, to premiere lesser animated films (“Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs”), Christian-y flicks (“Dolphin Tale”), and movies that have Oscar buzz until everyone sees them (“Black Mass”). It's a dumping ground. 

Well, this weekend, “It” grossed $117 million.

That's the third-biggest opening this year, after “Beauty and the Beast” and “Guardians 2.” It's also—by far—the best opening for a movie based on a Stephen King novel. With a few exceptions (“The Shining,” “Shawshank,” “Stand By Me”), most of these have been schlock. More than 10 years ago, I had to do a piece for MSN ranking Stephen King movies and I thought my eyes were going to bleed from watching so much crap. Before “It,” only six King-based movies even grossed > $15 mil:

1408 MGM/W 2,678 $20,617,667 $71,985,628 2007
The Dark Tower Sony 3,451 $19,153,698 $48,903,461 2017
Secret Window Sony 3,018 $18,237,568 $48,022,900 2004
The Green Mile WB 2,875 $18,017,152 $136,801,374 1999
Carrie (2013) SGem 3,157 $16,101,552 $35,266,619 2013
Dreamcatcher WB 2,945 $15,027,423 $33,715,436 2003

“It” got good reviews (86% on RT), and has talent behind it (Cary Fukunaga of “True Detective” season 1 was one of its screenwriters back in 2010), and its first teaser trailer got more than 197 million views within 24 hours—a record for a trailer. But it surely owes this success, and probably its existence, to “Stranger Things.” Someone needs to send the Duffer brothers a thank-you note. 

So should we, now that I think about it. “It” has shown Hollywood that if it's good, and there's interest, we will show up. Even if you release it in September. 

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Posted at 08:47 AM on Sun. Sep 10, 2017 in category Movies - Box Office  
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Twitter: @ErikLundegaard