×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Why ‘It: Chapter Two’ Conquered the Box Office

Warner Bros. and New Line’s “It: Chapter Two” provided a necessary lift to a lagging domestic box office, dominating over the competition with $91 million in North America. Though it fell short of the first film’s record-breaking $123 million debut in 2017, those figures still represent a promising result.

“Unless you’re ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ you’re not fishing for a record with a three-hour movie,” Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst with Comscore, said of inaugural ticket sales. “‘It: Chapter Two’ will be about the longterm playability more than the opening weekend pop.”

The return of Pennywise, the demonic clown (portrayed by Bill Skarsgard) at the center of “It” and its sequel, came at a welcome time for Warner Bros., which was in need of a boost after a dreary summer showing. The studio closed out popcorn season with notable misses including “The Kitchen” and “Blinded by the Light,” but “It: Chapter Two” looks to kick off a robust fall. In coming months, Warner Bros. will also unveil “Joker,” Joaquin Phoenix’s take on the infamous Batman villain that recently won a top prize at the Venice Film Festival, as well as another Stephen King adaptation, “Doctor Sleep.”

Despite a runtime near three hours and so-so reviews, “It: Chapter Two” is expected to continue scaring up major business across the globe. Overseas, the R-rated thriller kicked off with $94 million for a global start of $184 million. Here are a few reasons why the “It” sequel achieved solid liftoff.

Timing is everything

After a lackluster August capped off a disappointing summer season, audiences were itching for a reason to go to the movie theater. “Audiences felt underserved in August, to say the least,” Dergarabedian said. “They were waiting for a big movie to come along.”

“It: Chapter Two” proved to be that movie. The sequel had virtually free rein over the box office, collecting more money than the rest of the top 10 movies combined. It enjoyed that kind of dominance in part because it was last weekend’s only new nationwide release, but also because it had been weeks since a major blockbuster. Universal’s “Fast & Furious” spinoff “Hobbs & Shaw” has essentially run out of gas after six weeks of release, and Disney’s “The Lion King” has been in theaters for two months. Like “Hobbs & Shaw,” “It: Chapter Two” skewed toward male audiences but despite an R-rating, a diverse range of moviegoers showed up on opening weekend.

“Nobody used to release a movie of any size after Labor Day,” said Jeff Goldstein, Warner Bros.’ president of domestic distribution. “This weekend shows if you make a good movie and find a property that resonates with audiences, you can be really successful. We claimed over 77% of the marketplace.”

Timing helped “It: Chapter Two” in more than one way. The follow-up arrived exactly two years after the original, leaving just enough space for enthusiasm to build before moviegoers lost interest in the latest adventures of the Losers’ Club.

Moviegoers are gravitating toward movies that feel like events

In an era where it feels harder than ever to galvanize audiences to get off their couch and into theaters, there’s been renewed emphasis on building buzz. That is a major reason this year’s biggest successes — “Avengers: Endgame,” “Captain Marvel,” “The Lion King” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” — have stood out from the competition: Their respective studios (ok, mostly Disney) have managed to build sentiment that becomes part of the cultural conversation and makes people feel like they need to see it with a crowd.

“Making a movie into a must-see event in the movie theater has become key to the success of the industry,” Dergarabedian points out. “There are no safe bets, but if a movie can catch a wave of strong buzz, you can bet that’s a movie that’s going to get noticed.”

Star power helps

The first “It” had a relatively unknown cast, making it all the more impressive that it became a box office smash. But by aging up the Losers’ Club, director Andy Muschietti was able to enlist the starry ensemble of Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, James McAvoy, Isaiah Mustafa and Jay Ryan to portray their adult counterparts. The movie received its share of blowback, mostly for its long runtime and unwieldy plot, but critics almost unanimously sang the praises of the cast. Jen Yamato of the Los Angeles Times wrote than an “overstuffed third act” was “saved by an excellent cast led by McAvoy, versatile standout Hader, comedically gifted Ransone, and Jessica Chastain.”

More Film

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    'The Lighthouse,' 'Uncut Gems' Lead Spirit Awards Nominations

    “The Lighthouse” and “Uncut Gems” led the 2020 Film Independent Spirit Awards nominations with five each, while “Give Me Liberty” and “Honey Boy” took four apiece. “Uncut Gems,” “A Hidden Life,” “Clemency,” “The Farewell” and “Marriage Story” are up for best feature. Female lead nods went to Karen Allen for “Colewell,” Hong Chau for “Driveways,” [...]

  • Frozen 2

    How the 'Frozen' Music Team Helped Move the Story Forward in Disney's Sequel

    With Disney’s 2013 “Frozen” ranking as the highest-grossing animated film of all time and its Oscar-winning song “Let It Go” now an iconic empowerment anthem, how can the filmmakers and songwriters, reunited for “Frozen 2,” top the tale of sisters Elsa and Anna? “It was all about wanting to tell more of the story,” explains co-director [...]

  • Ben Affleck

    Ben Affleck to Direct and Produce Historical Drama 'King Leopold's Ghost'

    Ben Affleck will direct and produce the historical drama “King Leopold’s Ghost,” set in the early 20th Century in the Congo. The project will be developed by One Community. Affleck will produce via his Pearl Street Films banner, alongside Martin Scorsese who will produce via his Sikelia Productions banner. Harry and Gina Belafonte will also [...]

  • The Two Popes Marriage Story Netflix

    Streamers Ramp Up Golden Globes Race With More Contenders Than Ever

    More films from streaming services are in the awards race this year than ever, prompting some handwringing among awards season voters — most notably AMPAS board governor Steven Spielberg — about whether SVOD films with limited theatrical runs are leading to the demise of theaters and deserving of the same consideration as traditional releases. Netflix’s [...]

  • billy eichner Lion King

    Why Vocal Performances in Animated Films Deserve Their Own Oscars Category

    Given all the praise heaped on Billy Eichner’s performance this year as the wisecracking meerkat Timon in Jon Favreau’s remake of “The Lion King,” which grossed $1.6 billion worldwide, you’d think he would be a bigger contender in the Oscar conversation. His work was such a standout, he even upstaged Beyoncé’s much-hyped appearance in the [...]

  • Jumanji The Next Level

    Box Office: 'Jumanji 2' Eyes $40 Million-Plus Debut

    Will Christmas bring a fruitful box office bounty for Sony’s “Jumanji: The Next Level”? The Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart-led sequel, which arrives in theaters on Dec. 13, is on pace to debut to $40 million to $50 million, according to early tracking services. Since tracking has been unreliably for sequels in recent weeks, Sony [...]

  • Pluto TV Picks Up Collection of

    Pluto TV Picks Up Films for Woody Allen Season on U.K. Service (EXCLUSIVE)

    Viacom-owned streamer Pluto TV has inked a deal with Signature Entertainment for a collection of Woody Allen movies from the 1990s and will put them out in a dedicated season on its AVOD service in the U.K. Woody Allen Fridays start on the service this week, with the filmmaker’s pictures playing on the Pluto TV [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content