Weekend Box Office (September 8 - 10, 2017)
THIS WEEKEND Crushing every industry expectation in its path, the horror film It opened to an earth-shattering $117.2M demolishing records along the way and proving once again that when audiences are excited for a certain movie, they will come out in massive numbers no matter what month it is. The Stephen King terror tale was always expected to be a monster hit, but once the doors opened and lines began forming the numbers soared past any possibility that was imagined. It was the biggest opening weekend ever during the September-October corridor more than doubling the $55.8M of Gravity, the previous best during this time of year. Summer tentpole numbers were posted on what historically has been one of the slowest weekends of the entire year.
It also generated the third largest opening weekend of 2017 behind only the $174.8M of Beauty and the Beast and the $146.5M of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. The killer clown flick utterly dominated the box office this weekend representing a towering 75% of the entire marketplace. In fact, It grossed more than all films did last weekend over the four-day Labor Day holiday frame combined. This weekend delivered a towering $28,552 average from 4,103 locations including 370 IMAX screens and nine 4DX screens which feature moving seats and environmental effects.
Excitement kicked off with the launch of the first trailer months ago and strong reviews days before release only reinforced the fact that moviegoers were going to get their money's worth. Plus a dead marketplace in recent weeks created a situation where movie fans were starving for something new and exciting. It delivered on that. And all this was achieved without 3D pricing and with a portion of the population impacted by Hurricane Irma which shut down about 175 cinemas this weekend. Plus there were no stars among the cast.
Warner Bros. also scored the biggest horror movie debut of all-time as well as the second biggest R-rated launch ever trailing just the $132.4M of last year's Deadpool. The record weekend kicked off with a colossal $51M opening day Friday which included $13.5M from Thursday night pre-shows. Saturday dipped only 10% to $45.7M which is a great hold for a horror movie that generated so much business upfront with pre-shows. The studio is being conservative in its Sunday estimate of $20.5M (-55%) meaning when final numbers are tallied on Monday, the three-day figure might actually top $120M.
Audience scores are as high as they get for the horror genre so positive word-of-mouth will lead to plenty of more business ahead. The CinemaScore grade was a B+ which is quite high for scary movies. Studio research showed broad appeal as the female/male split was nearly even at 51/49. 65% were over 25. The road ahead is bright for It which could finish its domestic run in the $250-300M range which is just mind-blowing for a $35M production. That can make it one of the top five blockbusters of the year thus far.
Overseas movie fans are also feeling the heat as It grossed an estimated $62M this weekend from 46 international markets led by $12.3M in the U.K. Key markets like Mexico and Germany are still to come so a global run into the $500M club is certainly possible for this pop culture phenomenon.
Reese Witherspoon, a former decade-long owner of the September opening weekend record with Sweet Home Alabama, debuted far, far back in second place with weak results for her latest film Home Again which grossed an estimated $9M. The PG-13 film from Open Road averaged only $3,071 from 2,940 locations and targeted a mature female crowd over the kickoff weekend for the football season. Reviews were not very good and the B grade from CinemaScore indicates only medium satisfaction from customers.
After a three-week reign over a horrendous box office period, the action-comedy The Hitman's Bodyguard fell down to third with an estimated $4.9M giving Lionsgate a solid $64.9M on its way to the $75M neighborhood.
Despite intense horror competition, the fright flick Annabelle: Creation held up quite well in its fifth weekend dropping 47% for the second best hold for any wide release this weekend. Warner Bros. collected an estimated $4M pushing the cume to $96.3M on course to become the only film from August 2017 to break the century mark. Worldwide is now $280.3M.
The Weinstein Co. followed with a pair of its titles. Wind River dropped 49% to an estimated $3.2M while the toon Leap! fell 48% to an estimated $2.5M. New totals are $25M and $15.9M, respectively.
Now in its tenth weekend of play, Spider-Man: Homecoming remained in the top ten and ranked number seven with an estimated $2M. Off only 45%, the Sony smash has banked $327.7M and is close to bumping fellow comic pic Batman v Superman out of the all-time domestic Top 50 list. The new Spidey made its long awaited debut in China with a giant $70.8M which was the third best ever in that market for a super hero movie. The international sum hit $495.3M while the global gross rose to $823M passing the $816.3M of Wonder Woman in the process. Flying past $900M in the end seems very likely - a popular hangout for movies which include Iron Man.
Dunkirk dropped 55% to an estimated $2M putting Warner Bros. at $183.1M. Worldwide sits at $492.2M. Taking in an estimated $1.8M was Logan Lucky, down 59%, for a new cume of $25.4M. The Emoji Movie rounded out the top ten with an estimated $1.1M, falling 57%, for a $82.5M total for Sony.
The top ten films grossed an estimated $147.6M which was up a sharp 84% from last year when Sully opened at number one with $35M; and up 81% from 2015 when The Perfect Guy debuted in the top spot with $25.9M.
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Compared to projections, It flew much higher than my $62M forecast while Home Again debuted below my $12M prediction.
Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when mother! and American Assassin open.
This column is updated three times each week: Thursday (upcoming weekend's summary), Sunday (post-weekend analysis with estimates), and Monday night (actuals). Opinions expressed in this column are those solely of the author.
Last Updated: September 10, 2017 at 2:30PM ET
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