In probably the least surprising box office news of the year, It: Chapter Two dominated all competition at the weekend box office with an estimated $91 million start, although not all of the numbers associated with the sequel are as rosy red as Pennywise’s favorite balloons.
The much more expensive sequel (more than double the first film’s 35 million dollar budget, coming in at $79 million) laughed all the way to the bank for the second best start for a September release, the second best start for a horror film, and the fourth best ever opening for a R-rated feature. With no direct competition until the original mad clown, The Joker, arrives on October 4, It: Chapter Two should continue to deliver solid numbers for all of September and into the Halloween month of October when horror films traditionally reign supreme.
It: Chapter Two’s performance is a clear win for Warner Brothers, but the air may be let of the box office balloon much quicker this time around, based on a few key factors. According to Deadline, the runtime of the sequel (at almost three hours) is having a negative impact on sales, with some exhibitors claiming “…that the 2 hours 49 minute running time curbed business for them. It’s a horror film, so Chapter Two isn’t a big matinee show. One East Coast regional exhibitor had Chapter Two on four screens out of nine and could only squeeze out 13 shows. Five of the 13 were evening shows, and he could have had more in the evening if the pic was shorter (note there’s the trailer pre-roll, advertising and cleaning between showtimes). But the longer running time meant keeping staff later into the night, and customers getting out at 1AM.” In contrast, the first It film banked $123 million in its first weekend, with a running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.
Exit responses from fans seem to be fairly high (with a B+ Cinemascore and an 81% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes), but critical reception for It: Chapter Two is much lower at 64% fresh, as opposed to the original’s 86% score. More troubling is the discrepancy in the top critics category, dropping from 79% fresh to a rotten 43%. While most horror films are review proof in their first weekend of release, more casual fans (and IT attracted many horror novices) wait to see a film until they read reviews and check in with those who have already seen a film, so the less-favorable reviews may be a factor in this case.
If you are interested in our thoughts about this fall’s upcoming horror releases, be sure to consult our handy 2019 guide to all of the theatrical frights this season.