Can ‘It: Chapter Two’ Top Last Film’s Record $123 Million Opening?

Stephen King sequel will scare up plenty of business, but will it become the new all-time horror movie champ at the box office?

It Chapter Two
Brooke Palmer/Warner Bros.

Warner Bros. is in need of a box office winner and New Line’s “It: Chapter Two” is primed to be that champ. The question is, can the sequel match – or even pass – its predecessor, which went on to become the highest grossing horror movie in box office history?

This summer wasn’t a very good one for Warner Bros. Their tentpole blockbuster “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” disappointed in June, and the studio suffered two big August flops with “The Kitchen” and “Blinded by the Light.” But now it is hoping for a big, R-rated autumn starting with “It: Chapter Two.”

When it was released in 2017, “It” caught box office analysts by surprise, earning a September record $123 million opening and grossing $700 million worldwide against a budget of just $30 million. The film’s marketing was a masterclass in building audience hype, slowly revealing the new look of Pennywise the Dancing Clown and offering spoonfuls of how disturbing he would be. Strong critics reviews and rave word of mouth on opening weekend secured its spot as one of the top 10 highest grossing films of the year.

But can “Chapter Two” match that surprise performance? Right now, trackers are saying the sequel will perform very well but will fall short of its predecessor with an opening of $100-110 million against a much larger $70 million budget. Warner Bros. is being more conservative, projecting $85-90 million from 4,200 screens. Critics’ consensus is that the first “It” is a better film, but reviews are still generally positive at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes.

If “It: Chapter Two” hits tracker projections, it will do something that only Disney has been able to do so far in 2019: earn a $100 million opening weekend. Sony’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home” would have been the first non-Disney film to reach that mark, but Sony chose to open the film on a Tuesday to take advantage of the July 4 holiday.

With a $185 million 6-day opening and a $385 million domestic run, that was the right move for “Far From Home.” But it still means that only one studio has hit that major $100 million weekend benchmark. If “It” fans are as pleased with the scares of “Chapter Two” as they were with the first film, this movie should become only the second horror film ever to hit that mark.

“It: Chapter Two” covers the second half of Stephen King’s novel. Set 27 years after the events of the first film, the Losers Club is all grown up and have gone their separate ways. But when Pennywise (Bill Skarsgard) returns from the sewers of Derry to feed on its inhabitants, Mike Hanlon (Isaiah Mustafa) calls on the Losers to return to their childhood home to fulfill the oath they made as kids: if Pennywise comes back, finish him off for good.

James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader star in the film, with the original child cast led by Jaeden Martell and Finn Wolfhard returning in flashback scenes. The “It” director/writer duo of Andy Muschietti and Gary Dauberman return with producers Barbara Muschietti, Dan Lin and Roy Lee.