We love to predict and track box office success and failure around here because ticket sales are indicative of the swaying trends in Hollywood. One recent trend is the sudden low risk-high reward return of the horror genre, where films like Annabelle: Creation are providing so much bang for their buck that studios can whiff on bigger blockbusters and still come out in the black. Arguably the biggest horror movie of this year is the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s It from New Line Cinema/Warner Bros.
Not only did It‘s first trailer set the record for most views in its first 24 hours, but the first entry in the planned two-picture adaptation from Mama director Andrés Muschietti has been generating fantastic early buzz. All of that has contributed to the film’s phenomenal record-breaking early tracking numbers at the box office.
THR reports that It is on pace to open to $50 million plus when it hits theaters on September 8 (against a fairly big $35 million to $40 million budget, per Forbes). Some have even told THR it could reach close to $60 million. Either number would mark the biggest September opening in history (ahead of Hotel Transylvania 2‘s $48 million) and put it on pace to become the biggest King adaptation by far (The Green Mile, $272 million worldwide).
But since this is Hollywood where dreams get crushed everyday, the outlet reports that Warner Bros. executives are taking a more conservative approach with an expectation of $40 million to $45 million. Even if that’s the case, it would still put It ahead of all four entries in The Conjuring, per Box Office Mojo, which are considered big money-makers. Such an opening would also help fans wash the bad taste left in their mouths from Sony’s failed adaptation of King’s The Dark Tower. September has never been home to massive blockbusters, but the month doesn’t give It much in the way of competition which could lead to a leggy campaign.
Why is It tracking so well? Besides the quality trailers and King brand name, It is the type of cross-generational material that attracts a wide demographic of fans. You’ve got audiences that still remember when the book was released in 1986, you’ve got people who hopped aboard the bandwagon thanks to the 1990 miniseries, and you’ve got younger fans still discovering both to this day. This movie is awash in nostalgia and intrigue that can’t be assigned to one particular audience target.
The biggest R-rated horror film is still The Exorcist with $232 million domestic, per Forbes. It’s very doubtful that It can approach those numbers. But if these tracking numbers are accurate, the movie is still going to be one hell of a big hit. One could even say it’s bound to float to the top of the box office (sorry, couldn’t resist).