First of all, It had the biggest opening weekend for a horror film of all time. The film broke that record by quite a bit, too, as the previous record holder was Paranormal Activity 3 with $52 million. So not only did It break the previous record; it more than doubled it. That’s if you don’t count Hannibal as a horror film, but if you do, then that held the previous record with $58 million. If the movie has serious legs, it’s not totally unreasonable to think that It might become the top grossing horror film of all time. The record it would have to beat is The Sixth Sense‘s $293 million, or The Exorcist‘s $232 million if you don’t count The Sixth Sense as horror.
It also had the biggest opening weekend of any film released in September regardless of genre. Once again, the movie broke this record by a lot, as the previous top September opening was Hotel Transylvania 2 with $48 million. Really, the movie performed a lot more like a summer blockbuster than a September film, and had It opened in the summer, it would have had the second biggest opening weekend behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. It actually grossed more in its opening weekend than both Wonder Woman and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
In addition, It broke the record for biggest opening day of any R-rated film ever. The film grossed $51 million on Friday, higher than Deadpool‘s opening of $46 million. Ultimately, though, Deadpool had the bigger opening weekend, with a gross of $132 million compared to It‘s $117 million. But Deadpool also had the benefit of opening on Presidents’ Day weekend, whereas It did not open around a holiday.
It is also the cheapest movie to make over $100 million in its opening weekend. The film’s reported budget was only $35 million, whereas films with an opening weekend this big usually cost between $100 million and $200 million. Spider-Man: Homecoming, for instance, cost $175 million, yet It made more money in its opening weekend. Deadpool was previously the cheapest movie to gross $100 million in its opening weekend, but even that cost $58 million.
So what was it that made It such a success? It seemed to appeal to a much wider demographic than the typical big studio horror release, and Stranger Things help get audiences in the mood for nostalgic ’80s horror. The movie is scary, but not so scary that non-horror fans must stay away, and the fact that it’s based on preexisting material guarantees the attendance of a certain number of book readers and/or fans of the original TV movie. The film also had the benefit of coming out after a serious movie drought, coming following several weeks in a row with no major releases. Finally, while a number of films flopped at the box office this summer after receiving dismal reviews, such as Baywatch and The Dark Tower, It had the benefit of receiving extremely positive reviews and holding a score of 86% on Rotten Tomatoes; that score was even higher at the start of the weekend.
Obviously, this box office take means that the studio is moving forward with It: Chapter Two, which is expected to be released in 2019. Considering how well September 8 worked as an opening for the first chapter, Warner Bros. is likely to release the sequel in September as well.