Sat. Apr 4th, 2020

Box Office Estimates – IT: Chapter Two opens to $91M, second only to first chapter among September, horror openers

BILL SKARSGÅRD as Pennywise in New Line Cinema’s horror thriller IT CHAPTER TWO, a Warner Bros. Pictures release (Photo: Brooke Palmer)

IT: Chapter Two opened this weekend to an estimated $91 million in its opening weekend, a massive start that would be shocking and record-breaking on several fronts if its immediate predecessor hadn’t broken those records already. Ranking only behind that first ItChapter Two is the second largest opening of all time for a horror film (ahead of last year’s Halloween), the second largest opening of all time for a September release (nearly $40 million ahead of The Nun, released one year ago this weekend), and the second biggest opening of all time for a Fall release (over $10 million ahead of last year’s Venom).

There’s already a minor sense of disappointment in the air for this opening, as it is down 26% from the first IT‘s opening ($123.4 million) two years ago. And traditionally, that steep of a decline for a sequel might be worthy of concern, but there are a few things to consider. For starters, even the most optimistic predictions for the original It didn’t having it topping $90 million (Box Office Mojo predicted $85 million two years ago), and yet the sequel still managed to top that mark as well. Second, this is not an ongoing franchise, so Warner Brothers doesn’t have to worry about further decline for future installments the way they do about say, The Conjuring series. Third, the highest budget estimates have Chapter Two at $70 million, and with an estimated $185 million global opening, the film is already well on its way to a profitable run.

So all in all Warner Bros. is probably still very happy with this start, which gives them their first opening weekend over $90 million since Justice League nearly two years ago, and should give them their first $200+ million domestic grosser of the year. It hasn’t been great year for the studio, with their other two high-profile sequels (Godzilla: King of the Monsters, The LEGO Movie 2) declining far more from their predecessors than It: Chapter Two will. Between this massive opening, a warm response to Just Mercy at Toronto, and a Golden Lion win for Joker at Venice (WB’s first Golden Lion win since Michael Collins 23 years ago), it’s been a promising weekend for the studio and its fall lineup.

But where does Chapter Two go after this weekend? Sequels tend to be frontloaded, and the film will face competition for adult moviegoers from HustlersRambo: Last BloodAd Astra, and Downton Abbey in the coming weeks. But on the horror front It will remain completely competition-free for all of September and October, where the only horror horror movie scheduled for wide release is STX’s Countdown on October 25, a movie that does not even have a trailer released yet or an official plot synopsis on IMDb. That means that even if Chapter Two falls faster than its predecessor, it might manage to stay in multiplexes until Halloween, so that theaters have an option for moviegoers looking for supernatural spooks. I would estimate legs only slightly weaker than the first one, with a final total total in the $230-240 million range.

With IT as the only new wide release, the non-R-rated and non-horror fare actually managed stronger-than-normal post-Labor Day drops, with Good Boys ($5.39 million) and Hobbs & Shaw ($3.72 million) dropping less than 45%, while the more family-aimed Lion King ($4.19 million) and Overcomer ($3.75 million) dropped less than 40%. Meanwhile, horror films Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark ($2.27 million) and Ready or Not ($2.22 million) suffered the strongest drops in the top 10. The only other real wide release performance of note was The Peanut Butter Falcon (~$2 million), which leaped up to #7 (its first entry into the top 10) with the best hold of any wide release, dropping a mere 24.6%. With a $12.3 million total, it could challenge The Farewell (currently at $16.7 million) as the year’s biggest indie breakout.

Weekend Estimates
1. IT: Chapter Two – $91 million (NEW)
2. Angel Has Fallen – $6 million (-49%)
3. Good Boys – $5.39 million (-43%)
4. The Lion King – $4.19 million (-39%)
5. Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw – $3.72 million (-42%)
6. Overcomer – $3.1 million (-46%)
7. The Peanut Butter Falcon – $2.28 million (-25%)
7. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – $2.28 million (-55%)
9. Ready or Not – $2.23 million (-62.3%)
10. Dora the Explorer and the Lost City of Gold – $2.17 million (-47%)

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