It has done it.
The new horror film, based on Stephen King’s 1986 bestseller, got off to a record-setting start in its preview night Thursday, Variety reported.
The Andy Muschietti-directed film, which stars Bill Skarsgard as the evil clown Pennywise, racked up $13.5 million in opening receipts, the most ever for a September movie, a horror film, a motion picture with an R-rating and any films previously adapted from King’s works.
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Eyes on the prize: It – featuring Bill Skarsgard as the evil clown Pennywise – has opened to massive preview numbers, beating a number of prominent records on its first night at select theaters
The financial windfall marked the third-best preview of the year, behind Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 ($17 million) and Beauty and the Beast ($16.3 million), according to the publication.
The film is projected to break records including Hotel Transylvania 2’s $48.5 million September opening weekend two years ago, as well as the horror record set six years ago by Paranormal Activity 3, with a $52.6 million opening weekend.
Equally encouraging to Warner Bros. is favorable feedback from moviegoers surveyed after preview screenings, as comScore’s PostTrak data had 60 percent of viewers saying they’d ‘definitely recommend’ it to others, with 48 percent deeming it ‘excellent’ and 38 percent saying it was ‘very good,’ according to Variety.
It has also garnered a stellar 88 percent Rotten Tomatoes score as of late Friday, with an audience score of 91 percent.
Run for cover: The film had the highest preview opening for a Stephen King movie
Comeback: It projects to be the first solid hit Hollywood’s had in more than a month, after a dismal late summer season
Industry experts have projected the film to earn $65-75 million to a sluggish box office, the publication reported, with the last major summer hit coming in July, with the historical drama Dunkirk racking up $181 million over a seven-week span in the states. An early indication It would be a mega-hit came in March, when a trailer totaled a record 197-plus million views in a day online.
The film, which was made on a $35 million budget, is set in a small town in Maine, the state where famed local King was present at a Wednesday screening, garnering a standing ovation from the audience.
King, whose radio station WKIT-FM presided over the special showing, joked with the audience, ‘You’re going to be scared out of your seats anyway, so you might as well sit down.’
Leaving them smiling: The motion picture looks to have the benefit of strong word-of-mouth and reviews, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 88 percent
Terror: The movie revolves around a group of small town kids in Maine who are haunted by an evil clown
Surprise! Stephen King made a cameo at a Wednesday evening showing in his native Maine. The legendary author was snapped in NYC in June
The movie features a young cast composed of Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Wyatt Oleff and Nicholas Hamilton, along with Skarsgard as the face-painted antagonist.
The publication on Thursday reported that work is already underway on a second installment to the thriller, with writer Gary Dauberman inked to develop a script, and the director Muschietti also anticipated to come back.
Muschietti, speaking to Yahoo Movies earlier this month, opened up about where he’s headed creatively with a second installment. He said: ‘I really wanted to focus on the emotional journey of the group of kids … getting in to that other dimension – the other side – was something that we could introduce in the second part.’