It, the horror movie based on the novel by Stephen King, made box-office history over the September 8-11 weekend. The movie grossed $123.1 million in North America and $185 million globally.
That’s the highest-grossing launch ever for a horror movie. The previous record-holder was Paranormal Activity 3, which came in at a distant $52.6 million.
Not only did It beat out other horror films, it beat out every movie that came out in the summer of 2017 except for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. And it did all of this without any big-name stars.
“It’s humbling when something performs beyond your wildest expectations,” said Warner Bros. Pictures President and Chief Content Officer Toby Emmerich. “We are incredibly happy and relieved. All the hard work paid off, but we know there was a certain amount of luck involved.”
It follows a group of misfit kids in the 1980s who battle an evil clown named Pennywise. The movie follows the success of Stranger Things, a Netflix series based on another Stephen King novel, which is also set in the 1980s and involves kids coming together to fight a supernatural evil.
At the start of the past week, trackers figured that the movie would make $60 to $65 million, which would have made it the biggest September opening ever. But the fact that It more than tripled those estimates is a relief to movie theaters, which haven’t had a particularly good summer overall, despite a few standout movies—Wonder Woman and Dunkirk among them.
“There is something about this movie that people are ravenously interested in. It isn’t just about clowns and it isn’t just about the 1980s, although the ‘80s are a thing and has a certain panache,” Emmerich said. “We as a studio are betting big on the 1980s, including Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One.”
The success of the movie means that the planned movie sequel is also going to move forward.
While It was set in the 1980s, the sequel will feature the group of friends as adults, facing the same supernatural evil decades later. While the book switched back and forth between the adults and the kids, New Line specifically made its adaptation so that “chapter 1,” so to speak, features the kids and is set in the past, while “chapter 2” will feature the adults and be set in the present.
New Line hasn’t yet set a release date for the sequel, although 2019 is likely.