Stephen King 'losers' are box office winners

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LOS ANGELES — A robust audience turned out to catch "It: Chapter Two" in movie theaters this weekend, but not quite as big as the first.

Warner Bros. said that "It: Chapter Two," the only major new release, earned an estimated $91 million from North American ticket sales in its first weekend from 4,570 screens.

Trailing only its predecessor that debuted to a record $123.4 million in September 2017, the launch of "It: Chapter Two" is the second highest opening for a horror film ever and the month of September, which before "It" was not a strong month for blockbusters. Both were directed by Argentine filmmaker Andy Muschietti.

Jeff Goldstein, who oversees domestic distribution for Warner Bros., called the debut "sensational" and isn't concerned that "Chapter Two" didn't hit the heights of the first.

"How many movies open to $91 million? That was lightning in a bottle," Goldstein said. "You don't get lightning in a bottle twice. You get close though."

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Based on Stephen King's novel, "It: Chapter Two" brings the Losers Club back to Derry 27 years later to take on the demonic clown Pennywise, and stars James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader as a few of the adult "losers." The sequel cost around $79.5 million to make. Reviews were a little more mixed than for the first — 86% versus 64% on Rotten Tomatoes — but audiences were consistent. Both films got a B+ CinemaScore.

Comscore senior media analyst Paul Dergarabedian noted that, unlike most horror films which tend drop off significantly after opening weekend, "It: Chapter Two," like its predecessor and some of the recent high quality horror films could have "incredibly long playability."

"It: Chapter Two" is also a big win for Warner Bros., which had a few disappointments this summer with "The Kitchen" and "Shaft," but also have a few films that could really take off, including "Joker," out Oct. 4, and another King adaptation, "Doctor Sleep," out Nov. 8.

The rest of the top 10 was populated by holdovers: "Angel Has Fallen" took a distant second with $6 million and "Good Boys" placed third with $5.4 million. In limited release, the documentary "Linda Ronstadt: The Sound of My Voice" performed well in its first weekend, grossing $115,500 from seven locations.

After a down summer for the industry as a whole and a year that is still running 6% down, "It: Chapter Two" is a promising start to the fall movie season, which runs from the day after Labor Day weekend through November.

"It's really important to have a movie to get the momentum going," Dergarabedian said.


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