Horror floats down here.
While Hollywood has suffered one of the worst summers in years, the horror genre is laughing all the way to the bank. Universal kicked the year off with massive successes, including Jordan Peele’s Get Out and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, both topping $250 million worldwide. In fact, David F. Sandberg’s Annabelle: Creation could topple $300m. While we’re all celebrating these successes none are as important as Warner Bros./New Line Cinema’s IT, which has shattered September records by topping $100 million during its opening weekend.
In fact, early estimates are reporting that IT has exploded to a whopping $117 million opening weekend, making it the best horror opening ever.
That $117 million is just here in the States, with early international reports just coming in adding $62m to the total. Early Sunday morning estimates have the worldwide gross at $179 million. An interesting comparison would be to Sony’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, which shared a similar debut. That ended its domestic run at $325m and worldwide at $750m, which would be absolutely insane for a horror film. $500+ million worldwide is all but guaranteed. UPDATE: As of Monday morning it’s being reported that the domestic take is more along the lines of $123 million!
How IT got there: Debut ($117M) IMAX ($7M) Budget ($35M) Females (51%) CinemaScore (B+) 25+ (65%)
— Exhibitor Relations (@ERCboxoffice) September 10, 2017
I’m not a fan of box office reporting but, as we all know, Hollywood is reactive. These numbers mean something, and IT‘s ascension from problematic (and nearly shut down) to greatness will impact the entire industry. You see, IT has saved fans from continually being served fast-food horror. The studios have become accustomed to underspending on our genre, with budgets dwindling down to the $5 million range. That’s quite literally what it costs to make many independent films you see at Sundance or Toronto these days. Each movie is its own miracle but every horror movie just can’t be made for $5m and be good. On the flip side, in the early 2000s, studios were most definitely overspending on our genre, making it nearly impossible to recoup their expenses. Like I said, Hollywood is reactionary and IT has saved us from the terrors of under-budgeted genre films; this massive opening is a signal to the executives that people will show up for high-quality horror productions. It’s just up to them to hit the breaks a bit and find a happy place between under and overspending.
Speaking of…hopefully, Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Pictures don’t forget how they got here. When Cary Fukunaga was attached to the Stephen King adaptation, it was originally a Warners production. From what I’m told, budget concerns initially caused the studio to hit the breaks, and that’s why it was shifted over to New Line. There, Fukunaga exited the project and Andy Muschietti was brought in to retool the film to fit into a lesser budget (reported at $35 million). Even with the lesser budget, they spent a lot in comparison. You just can’t cheat quality and IT proves this on so many levels.
It’s been so long since we’ve seen a horror movie with this kind of backing and now I’m longing for it all over again. It’s time for the studios to transition out of the micro-horror mindset and get back to the basics. They need to support the genre and get behind refreshing projects without letting the budget get out of hand and thus killing their own monster that they created. There is a place where horror can live that delivers both profits and quality. The closest we’ve been to floating up from the sewers is with New Line’s Conjuring franchise, which continues to be a box office beast that’s also made within reasonable budgets.
Strap in, dear readers, it’s time for the great horror revival! We’re only just getting started…