When Andy Muschietti’s IT hit theaters in 2017, it was a massive, unprecedented success at the box office. The feature film adaptation of Stephen King’s classic novel did numbers akin to a big budget blockbuster and became the most successful horror movie of all time. So naturally expectations were high that the sequel, IT Chapter Two, would be similarly phenomenal at the box office. Now that IT Chapter Two has been out a few weeks, it’s time to see just how it compares to the first movie so far.
Let’s first start with each film’s opening weekend. IT debuted in theaters on September 8, 2017 and over its opening weekend it made a massive $123.4 million. That number set a record both for horror opening weekend and opening weekends in the month of September. Like its predecessor, IT Chapter Two also enjoyed a huge debut. The sequel, concluding the epic tale, opened on September 6 and made $91 million in its opening weekend.
That debut nabbed IT Chapter Two the second-place spot on all-time horror and all-time September opening weekends. However, IT Chapter Two’s debut was $32.3 million or roughly 26.2% less than the first film’s. So IT Chapter Two didn’t open quite as big, which is not necessarily uncommon or unexpected.
Franchises can grow sequel over sequel, but not always. IT is a property people have nostalgia for, either because of Stephen King’s novel, the 1990 mini-series or both. There was a built-up excitement for the first movie that couldn’t be matched by the second, not unlike how Star Wars: The Last Jedi made $27 million less opening weekend than Star Wars: The Force Awakens and way less overall.
Potentially impacting the sequel’s opening weekend was the fact that it is much longer, at two hours and 49 minutes versus the first film’s two hours 15 minutes. Additionally, IT received much better reviews than IT Chapter Two, which is still fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and they both shared the same “B+” CinemaScore. IT Chapter Two also benefitted from a higher domestic theater count.
Next its worth looking at where each film is/was at this point in its run. After three weekends in domestic theaters IT’s domestic cume came to $266 million. In contrast, after its third weekend, IT Chapter Two sat at $178.9 million according to Box Office Mojo. In addition to starting out lower, IT Chapter Two has had bigger drops in its box office week to week, although not drastically so.
IT dropped 51.3% in its second weekend and 50.5% in its third. IT Chapter Two dropped 56.5% in its second weekend and 57.1% in its third. IT also maintained a spot in the top three until its sixth weekend whereas IT Chapter Two fell to number four in its third weekend. While worse reviews or more muted audience enthusiasm could be a factor there, I think a big part of this comes down to competition.
In its second weekend, IT faced off with new releases American Assassin and mother!, neither of which were huge with American Assassin managing an opening weekend of $14.8 million. In the sequel’s sophomore frame, the newcomer was Hustlers, which proved much more formidable with $33.1 million. In their third weekends things were a bit closer but I’d still say IT Chapter Two had the rougher road.
In its third weekend, IT met newcomers Kingsman: The Golden Circle and The LEGO Ninjago Movie but the trio of Downton Abbey, Ad Astra and Rambo: Last Blood made more money and gave IT Chapter Two more competition for grown-up eyeballs.
IT finished its run with $327.4 million at the domestic box office and $372.9 overseas for a total of $700.3 million. To date, IT Chapter Two has made $181.6 million domestic and $206.1 million in foreign revenue for $387.7 million worldwide.
Interestingly, the domestic and foreign percentages of the worldwide box office for the sequel at its current point are the same as the first film at the end of its run, 46.8% and 53.2% respectively. So audience interest in the property doesn’t appear to have waned in one area versus the other in any major way. Like its predecessor, IT Chapter Two will not release in China, but it still has a Japan opening in November. The first film made $19.3 million in that country.
It doesn’t look like IT Chapter Two will match its predecessor at the worldwide box office or hit the magical $1 billion mark we speculated about before the film’s release. Still, like the first film, IT Chapter Two is a major horror hit that once again reminded us that with the right property, horror can be as big as more traditional blockbusters.
IT Chapter Two is now playing. Check out our 2019 Release Schedule to see what else you can look forward to this year.
Nick grew up in Maryland has degrees in Film Studies and Communications. His life goal is to walk the earth, meet people and get into adventures. He’s also still looking for The Adventures of Pete and Pete season 3 on DVD if anyone has a lead.
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