It, based on the Stephen King horror story, topped the box office in a record-breaking debut for a September release, a sign of hope for an industry reeling from its worst summer in more than a decade.
Viral marketing featuring a creepy clown and a red balloon helped drive excitement around It, which collected about $123.4 million in sales in U.S. and Canadian theaters for Warner Bros., researcher ComScore Inc. said Sunday. The other new release of the weekend, the lambasted Home Again, placed second with about $8.6 million.
September traditionally is known as a poor month at the box office, but films such as sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle from 20th Century Fox and The Lego Ninjago Movie from Warner Bros. could change that. September will probably tell us where we are going to be at year end, said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations Co.
It, a remake of a 1990 TV miniseries, screened in 4,103 theaters, the widest release ever for an R-rated film, according to Box Office Mojo. It more than doubled the previous record for a September debut, set by Hotel Transylvania 2 with $48.5 million in 2015. The previous largest opening weekend for an R-rated horror feature was held by Paranormal Activity 3 with $52.6 million.
The Exorcist from 1973 holds the record for largest domestic gross for R-rated horror films with $233 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
It taps into the same vein of 1980s nostalgia that made Netflix Inc.'s Stranger Things such a hit. The movie is an adaptation of King's 1986 novel.
Warner Bros.' latest incarnation of the freaky clown Pennywise is played by Bill Skarsgard. Directed by Andy Muschietti and co-written by Cary Fukunaga, who directed the first season of HBO's True Detective, the film recounts the tale of a group of bullied kids who band together to kill the creep who's been hunting local children. The movie scored 89 percent positive reviews, according to RottenTomatoes.com, with critics praising the acting and suspense.
Home Again features Reese Witherspoon as single mom Alice Kinney, who moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles with her two daughters. Her life changes when she meets three filmmakers whom she lets move in. Most critics gave it a resoundingly negative review.
Lionsgate's The Hitman's Bodyguard got bumped to No. 3 after three weeks atop the chart, adding $4.8 million, for a cumulative total of $64.8 million. Starring Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, the picture's 54 percent decline was the highest in the top five.
Coming in fourth was New Line Cinema's Annabelle: Creation, which, despite losing 355 sites and facing increased genre competition from It, grossed $4 million in its fifth weekend for an estimated $96.3 million.
Rounding out the top five was the Weinstein Co.'s drama Wind River, which brought in about $3.1 million after adding 288 locations for a to-date total of $25 million. The crime thriller, set on an American Indian reservation in Wyoming and starring Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen, was written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (screenwriter of Sicario and Hell or High Water) and earned an 86 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
This week, Lionsgate and CBS Films premiere the Dylan O'Brien and Michael Keaton-led American Assassin action flick, and Paramount reveals the mysterious psychological thriller Mother! starring Jennifer Lawrence and directed by Darren Aronofsky. Annapurna Pictures and Amazon will also open the social media-themed adult comedy Brad's Status in limited release.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
The top 20 movies at U.S. and Canadian theaters Friday through Sunday, followed by distribution studio, gross, number of theater locations, average receipts per location, total gross and number of weeks in release, as compiled Monday by comScore:
It, Warner Bros., $123,403,419, 4,103 locations, $30,076 average, $123,403,419, one week.
Home Again, Open Road, $8,567,881, 2,940 locations, $2,914 average, $8,567,881, one week.
The Hitman's Bodyguard, Lionsgate, $4,801,745, 3,322 locations, $1,445 average, $64,848,752, four weeks.
Annabelle: Creation, Warner Bros., $4,003,115, 3,003 locations, $1,333 average, $96,270,125, five weeks.
Wind River, The Weinstein Co., $3,132,362, 2,890 locations, $1,084 average, $24,924,354, six weeks.
Leap!, The Weinstein Co., $2,443,405, 2,691 locations, $908 average, $15,817,841, three weeks.
Spider-Man: Homecoming, Columbia, $2,006,749, 1,657 locations, $1,211 average, $327,694,543, 10 weeks.
Dunkirk, Warner Bros., $1,861,601, 2,110 locations, $882 average, $183,021,880, eight weeks.
Logan Lucky, Bleecker Street, $1,669,875, 2,167 locations, $771 average, $25,072,116, four weeks.
The Emoji Movie, Columbia, $1,138,516, 1,450 locations, $785 average, $82,595,374, seven weeks.
Despicable Me 3, Universal, $933,240, 1,274 locations, $733 average, $259,981,415, 11 weeks.
Girls Trip, Universal, $819,855, 1,123 locations, $730 average, $113,378,325, eight weeks.
The Dark Tower, Columbia, $757,159, 948 locations, $799 average, $48,910,620, six weeks.
Wonder Woman, Warner Bros., $660,442, 961 locations, $687 average, $410,501,584, 15 weeks.
Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature, Open Road, $576,818, 1,235 locations, $467 average, $27,468,712, five weeks.
The Glass Castle, Lionsgate, $533,828, 1,037 locations, $515 average, $16,078,713, five weeks.
True to the Game, Independent, $472,323, 461 locations, $1,025 average, $472,323, one week.
All Saints, Columbia, $465,035, 834 locations, $558 average, $4,604,312, three weeks.
War for the Planet of the Apes, 20th Century Fox, $450,821, 653 locations, $690 average, $145,329,526, nine weeks.
The Big Sick, Lionsgate, $441,878, 535 locations, $826 average, $41,990,772, 12 weeks.
MovieStyle on 09/15/2017
Print Headline: It slays rivals with $123 million