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The first chapter of IT wasn't just a popular movie. It was one of the most popular films of its genre ever released. It was no shock when the sequel was greenlighted almost immediately. Now, that sequel is nearly here, and the early estimates are predicting that IT Chapter Two will do at least as well on opening weekend as the original, and it will probably surpass it.
IT Chapter Two doesn't arrive in theaters until September, but the early projections are coming together for the film and the domestic opening weekend box office range is currently looking to land somewhere between $110-$150 million. For comparison, the first chapter of IT came in at $123.4 million.
Nobody could have hoped that IT could have done any better back in 2017. Honestly, $123 million was the biggest September opening ever, and it still is, more than double the previous record holder. It also had the second-highest opening weekend for an R-rated movie behind Deadpool (It now sits in third place on that list as Deadpool 2 took the number two spot).
All this was just the beginning of what would become the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie of all-time. It stands as the fourth highest-grossing R-rated movie ever domestically.
BoxOfficePro is putting the IT Chapter Two opening weekend number at $136 million right now, which means the sequel is expected to surpass the original. That will give it the highest-grossing R-rated movie opening weekend ever if it hits or beats that number, defeating both Deadpool movies. If IT Chapter Two hits closer to the high end of projections it could blow all those opening weekend records out of the water.
While horror has been strong at the box office in recent years, 2019 has not been that good to the genre overall. The recent Annabelle Comes Home is at the bottom of the box office returns for the entire Conjuring franchise despite getting solid reviews from critics. It's unclear if this is part of a larger trend. Frequently horror movies tend to do better than their reviews because the audience looking for them only has limited options.
It's possible that IT Chapter Two could be hit by this trend and not do as well as expected. Having said that, the fans who saw the first chapter of IT have likely been waiting for this sequel and that might protect Chapter 2 from the lukewarm response other titles in the genre have been getting this year.
It seems that the worst case scenario for IT Chapter Two is that it might simply become "one of" the highest-grossing R-rated horror movies ever made, rather than making the top of the list, but at this point it does appear that the sequel is going to do everything at the box office that the studio has been hoping.
Of course, much of that may depend on how good the movie actually is. If something unexpected happens and the sequel doesn't turn out as well as the first chapter all bets are off, but based on what we've seen so far, that doesn't seem likely.