After Sunday confirmed growing word of mouth, “It” ended its opening weekend with $123 million. For horror films, which call a $40 million-$50 million opening great, that’s nearly uncharted territory. Even if “It” only doubles its opening, that would make it not only the biggest Stephen King adaptation ever (topping “The Green Mile,” in adjusted numbers), but also one of the top horror films in box-office history.
It will easily outpace this year’s two best, the microbudget Blumhouse films “Get Out” ($175 million) and “Split” ($138 million). And the first weekend already has surpassed “Annabelle: Creation” ($96 million) or a domestic disappointment like the Tom Cruise’s “The Mummy” ($80 million).
Horror can cover a lot of territory, so exact definitions can be a challenge. But it looks like “It” will join a list of the 10 biggest ever in domestic ticket sales (as calculated by adjusting ticket prices).
Top 10 Horror Movies in Box-Office History
- The Exorcist (1973)
- The Sixth Sense (1999)
- House of Wax (1954)
- Psycho (1960)
- Signs (2002)
- The Mummy Returns (2001)
- The Amityville Horror (1979)
- Alien (1979)
- The Mummy (1999)
- What Lies Beneath (2000)
That’s a wide range of titles for the genre. Only “The Exorcist” ranks high among the biggest movies of all time; it’s #9. “The Sixth Sense” ranks #68. “House of Wax” was the biggest hit of the 3D era.
“Psycho” and others before it remain strong influences on the genre, but the most recent addition was 15 years ago. “Get Out” lands just outside the top 20, making it much bigger than most others in this century.
“It” will soon pass the original “The Omen,” “The Blair Witch Project,” and “Poltergeist,” all of which grossed far above $200 million in adjusted numbers. The first two “Scream” films stand at around $200 million, and the original “Halloween” $180 million. Other classic series like “Friday the 13th,” “Nightmare on Elm Street,” and various “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” entries fall in the adjusted range of $100 million-$150 million.
However, none of those films opened anywhere close to “It.” It’s a debut exceeded this year only by “Beauty and the Beast” and “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and is $20 million more than the much-heralded “Wonder Woman.” (That film became the second biggest of the year, with a stunning four-time multiple of $410 million.)
We need the second weekend to judge how high “It” can go, but based on initial results $300 million is possible. That would place it in a rarefied territory, and an extremely profitable one as well. At $35 million, and with strong initial results in the rest of the world, $500 million worldwide is well within reach.
The horror genre has never gone away, though went through a bit of a lull a few years ago when titles like the “Carrie” and “Poltergeist” remakes, and others like “I, Frankenstein” and “Devil’s Due,” never made major impact. Jason Blum’s films, among others, have revived interest — but “It” stands alone, although a sequel is certain.