If you listen carefully, you’ll hear the distant sobs of movie executives across Hollywood bemoaning the domestic box office, which has so far dropped 4% year-to-year. And if you’re a jaded movie fan like me, you’ll shrug and go turn on the next episode of Ozark, caring not a bit for the plight of LA-based producers who will have to determine whether or not they can still afford that Lykan Hypersport, or if they’ll need to downgrade to a Ferrari. One movie company that can put aside such harrowing thoughts for a bit is New Line Cinema, who will debut Stephen King’s IT this October.
Early tracking estimates put the opening numbers over $50 million, although the studio itself is already trying to tamp down expectations with a more reasonable $40 million target. If the new Pennywise thriller does crack $50 mil, New Line’s producers will be sleeping well. Consider this: only two films in the last five years have opened to over $50 million in the month of October (the Martian and Gravity). And you have to go back to 2010 to find an R-rated movie with that kind of debut, when Paramount’s Jackass 3-D pulled the world’s biggest prank ever by convincing people to show up.
October is a month normally known for slow burners, like The Ring, which debuted at $19 million but ended up grossing over a cool $100 mil. If IT can break the $50 million mark, it will be a huge relief to Stephen King fans, who were stung by the tepid response to August’s The Dark Tower. The Dark Tower itself only scored $19 million on its debut weekend. It hasn’t yet cracked $50 million in the US, and isn’t projected to. At $50 million, IT would also be Stephen King’s biggest opening ever and have a difficult if still-doable path toward beating The Green Mile ($136 million domestically) as King’s highest-grossing film of all time. Even if it doesn’t beat The Green Mile, King’s #2 film, 1408, should easily be bested, as it had a more achievable final tally of $71 million. King’s last October debut, by the way, was 2013’s Carrie, which burned up quickly at the box office, earning only $35 million domestically in its entire theatrical run.
Buzz for IT has been huge, as evidenced by the records broken on YouTube with that first trailer. We’ll have to wait and see if that hype translates to actual box office numbers.
Are you planning on catching IT at the theaters? Tell me in the comments below, or check me on Twitter at @LRM_Brian.
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