September Box Office Recap

By Steven Slater

October 5, 2017

Whiteface competition winner.

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Up is down, left is forward, and ahead is landing on the moon. I know what the calendar says, and I know what movies have come out, but it’s like climate change is wreaking havoc on movie-going habits and everything is out of whack. We had one of the worst summers and Augusts in recent memory, and now we have the best September of all time with by far the biggest September movie of all time. Given that the biggest movies of the year in 2017 are inevitably occurring in March and December, it feels almost like a stake has been driven into the heart of summer movie-going, especially given the fare released during many of the weekends between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The upside is a September like this one, where an event movie can take us totally by surprise.

1) IT

Opening Weekend: $123.4 million
Monthly Total: $286.6 million

The budget for this film tells you everything you need to know about the expectations for this film versus what it delivered; Warner Bros. gave IT $35 million, and offered it to director Andy Muschietti who had previously only directed Mama. Given how The Dark Tower had performed just the month prior, this budget would have seemed reasonable. Then IT earned over a third of its budget from Thursday night previews. A smash hit was born. IT earned almost double what the entire top ten had earned two weekends prior, it almost tripled the record for September opening weekend, and it more than doubled the record for a fall opening. Now it has surpassed the long-time champ of R-rated horror films, The Exorcist, and could wind up with three times the domestic gross of the number one film from August. Suffice it to say that the entire reason this September is so remarkable is because of a single film.


If IT had been released during the summer with a big marketing campaign, this probably would not feel as special, but these box office numbers are huge by any metric. I mean, how many coke-fueled nightmares from the 1980’s are sitting around waiting to become phenomenons? Would IT have been so big without Stranger Things being a huge hit just last year (and the hype for the second season building)? Are children of the 1980’s the only thing keeping movies afloat right now, given that every property of note from then has been brought back from the dead in true 1980’s Re-Animator fashion (next up, Top Gun 2: Wheelchair Wars!). Regardless, IT is a shot in the arm for movie theaters, and undoubtedly we will see a resurgence of Stephen King properties and other nostalgic items beyond what is already being done.

2) Kingsman 2: The Golden Circle

Opening Weekend: $39 million
Monthly Total: $62.2 million

Kingsman 2 is doing about as well as expected, and after actuals came out for this past weekend it spends its second weekend in the top spot. Opening a bit ahead of the first Kingsman, number 2 should fall a bit behind domestic and a bit ahead worldwide when all is set and done, which is commendable given how other franchises have performed recently. The playful nature of this series, complimentary to the more serious tone of recent spy fare, scratches that itch that some people tend to get this time of year. It also gives 20th Century Fox some good news, as Kingsman pushes them over the $1 billion mark, the fourth studio to do so this year. Given the big studios that have not hit that mark yet (Sony, Lionsgate, Paramount), I would not be surprised to see one of them sold off within the next few years. I’m calling it: Apple buys Sony (the movie studio), and Netflix or Amazon buys Paramount. Kingsman keeps Fox independent and alive. For now.

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