Warner Bros.‘ follow-up to the 2017 hit “It” arrives in theaters this weekend and has a chance to break horror movie records.
“It: Chapter Two,” the second and final film adaptation of Stephen King’s “It,” takes place 27 years after the first film and could scare up a better opening weekend than its predecessor, analysts say.
With opening weekend ticket sales of $123 million, “It” holds the record for the highest horror movie opening. It is also the highest-grossing horror movie of all time, with sales of $700 million during its run.
There’s a wide estimate for the weekend haul of “Chapter Two,” with some saying it will pull in between $105 million and $110 million, while others see it topping $130 million and becoming the new opening weekend record holder for a horror movie.
Warner Bros. has set its forecast much lower, expecting around $85 million in ticket sales.
Some fear Hurricane Dorian, the storm that devastated parts of the Bahamas, could put a damper on ticket sales in areas that have experienced flooding or evacuation orders. Dorian made landfall Friday in North Carolina’s Outer Banks as a Category 1 storm. It is expected to skirt along the East Coast towards southeastern Virginia, as it heads northeast.
“I would be surprised if it hit $85 or $90 million,” said Jeff Bock, senior box office analyst at Exhibitor Relations.
“That would be a big downswing considering how well received the first one was.”
“It” had a Rotten Tomato score of 86%, which is very impressive, especially for a horror film. Horror films tend to be poorly received by critics, as many of them focus on shock and scares rather than plot. “Chapter Two” currently holds a 67% Rotten Tomatoes score. While that is lower than the first film, it’s still a very good sign.
Most horror movies will see a strong opening weekend, but often that is followed by a 70% drop-off in sales during the second weekend because they are not “good” movies, from a critic’s perspective. These movies don’t bring in non-horror fans and don’t entice repeat viewings.
“Forgettable, but profitable,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore, said of the genre.
“It: Chapter Two” is different.
“Combined with the fan goodwill of the first movie, this second part’s adult cast brings incredible talent into the fold,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com. “That should help retain a big portion of the audience who turned out two years ago. The lack of any event-level horror releases since earlier this year also means there’s an audience hungry for this kind of movie right now.”
The adult Losers Club is played by Jessica Chastain, James McAvoy, Bill Hader, Jay Ryan, Isaiah Mustafa, James Ransone and Andy Bean. Already, critics have praised the casting of the film and said Hader is a scene-stealer throughout the movie.
The film is currently Fandango’s best-selling horror movie in terms of presale tickets, beating out “It,” “Us” and the 2018 “Halloween.”
“The trends we’ve seen across social media and prerelease tracking suggest interest is high across a variety of demographics, which isn’t typical for the genre,” Robbins added.
There is some hesitancy from experts, however, after “Chapter Two” pulled in only $10.5 million on Thursday. The first “It” had earned $13.5 million during its preview night. Some have suggested that Hurricane Dorian was to blame for the lower turnout. Still, “Chapter Two” had the second-highest preview gross for any horror film, just behind its predecessor.
“It: Chapter Two” will play in 4,570 theaters, the widest location count ever for the month of September.
Disclosure: Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC, owns Fandango.