“It” Blitzes Competition With $60 Million Second Stanza While JLaw’s “mother!” Flunks Out. Now Can “It” Threepeat? This Weekend at the Boxoffice.

By Jim Amos | September 18, 2017 12:38 am PDT

To quote the great Peter Noone, second verse same as the first. WB/NL’s “It” easily romped to the top of the boxoffice again this weekend, scoring a massive USD $60 million in ticket sales in North America alone, propelling it to $218 million overall here in the States, which by the way makes it the highest grossing September title ever. Yes, after only ten days. It’s looking like it’s total cume when all is said and done might well be over USD $300 million.

To further put the awe-inspiring numbers in context, the second weekend of the film still would have been strong enough to break the record for highest September debut ever. Things get a bit murky this coming weekend with two strong titles but “It” has become such a water cooler phenomenon that we should probably figure on the film playing most of the way through October with a possible late night Halloween week recharge.

Internationally “It” added USD $60 million to its overall take and has now amassed USD $150 million overseas. As expected, Mexico was enormous with almost USD $14 million coming from that country alone. There were strong holds in the territories that opened last week as well.

Elsewhere, the Dylan O’Brien starrer “American Assassin” came in just at the CJ USD $15 million projection for the weekend. As expected, males made up 55% of its opening weekend audience with the lions share of its fans coming from the under 25 age bracket. The film garnered a B+ Cinemascore to offset a rather lackluster RT number of 37. This week’s CJ Review Quote of the Week comes from Jacob Knight at Birth.Movies.Death who summed AA up with, “So beige and unmemorable that this writer struggled to recall any sort of palpable plot details mere hours after the credits rolled”. Ouch.

But, ladies and gentlemen, that was mere child’s play compared to the smoldering 16 car pileup that was Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!”. It’s almost unimaginable to think a thriller with Jennifer Lawrence could only open to $7.5 million but lo and behold it did. And for those studio executives who looked around for someone else to blame for this summer’s boxoffice downturn and decided that Rotten Tomatoes was the cause of all the industry’s woes, this film actually scored a RT figure of 69, which should have translated to a decent opening if studio execs are to be believed.

However, dig deeper and you’ll find that the Cinemascore on the film was an F. No, my cat did not just accidentally type that on my laptop, it actually received an F Cinemascore. Not in my recent memory can I recall this much of a dichotomy between reviewers and moviegoers on a wide release title, certainly not on a film that reviewers loved but audiences hated with the kind of vitriol normally reserved for Venezuelan political protests or Philadelphia Eagles games.

Everything about the movie felt wrong from the perplexing release date (“You know, one week after “It” comes out sounds like the type of big thinking idea we need around here, Jenkins!”) to the movie’s perplexing and grammatically challenged title to an ad campaign that even Salvador Dali would have found bizarre. The key art felt like it was concocted either by Peter Max in 1968 or me after being slipped two microdots at a Santana concert in 1979.

Jennifer Lawrence didn’t help her cause either by becoming a lightning rod for the right with her anti-Trump comments the week prior to opening.  JLaw is cute as a button when she stumbles on her way up to the Oscar podium but less so when she’s trying to be Joan Rivers during a category 4 hurricane. Expect the film to take a massive hit this coming weekend.

The initial launch for the Ben Stiller starrer, “Brad’s Status”, was successful, scoring a per location average of $26,000 in its first four theatres.

In other items of note…

  • It’s closing time for the Malibu Twin theatre located in the tony beach community of Malibu, California as it permanently shut its doors last Sunday. Here’s a link to my LinkedIn post about the demise of the Twin and what it could mean for other small cinemas;
  • There is a new film opening in Russia called “Matilda”, which depicts the romance between Tsar Nicholas II and ballerina Mathilde Kschessinsky. Holy Rus, a radical Russian Orthodox Christian group has threatened to burn any cinema to the ground showing the film, calling it blasphemous. Side question: where were these people when Adam Sandler’s “Jack and Jill” came out?
  • Huge shout-out to Santikos Theatres and Alamo Drafthouse who have provided free movies for families suffering in hurricane ravaged Texas.
  • Conscious Capitalism isn’t just a neat catch phrase, it should be the ethos of our industry. If your circuit is helping hurricane victims just send me a note and I’ll gladly feature you next week;
  • “Annabelle: Creation” currently sits at $99.9 million on the domestic front. They couldn’t have found just one or two more patrons to reach the century mark?
  • It just seems to get earlier every year. It’s only mid-September and the first Oscar screeners have started arriving;
  • “3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” won the Toronto Film Festival People’s Choice Best Film award over the weekend;
  • “War for the Planet of the Apes” finally was released in China and it nabbed a USD $63 million opening;
  • “Victoria and Abdul” debuted in 2nd place in the UK with USD $2.5 million;
US box office weekend 17 September 2017
US box office weekend 17 September 2017

And away we go…

Kingsman: Golden Circle (Fox)Kingsman: Secret Service” was such a true surprise, both in quality and overall gross, that it was a fait accompli that there would be a second and, indeed, Taron Egerton returns as a hipper Jmaes Bond. This time he meets his counterparts in the States in the form of Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges and Halle Berry and mass mayhem ensues. Colin Firth is back (we won’t spoil how he returns as he was killed off in the first) as does director Matthew Vaughn who keeps the action flowing at a frenetic pace.

The Verdict: The original opened to USD $36 million on its way to a domestic total of USD $128 million and an eye opening USD $286 million overseas. KGC could provide further proof that moviegoers aren’t tired of sequels but they’re tired of tired sequels if this debuts higher than the original which looks like a sure bet. Also noteworthy is that the film should have the full compliment of large format and enhanced sensory theatres such as IMAX, XD, RPX, ETX, D-Box, ScreenX, MX4D, Ultra AVX, AFL-CIO and OBGYN. Figure this keeps the September ball rolling and quiets some of the Chicken Little talk. USD $52 million.

The LEGO Ninjago Movie” (WB)Warners takes a respite from counting its “It” money to release the latest entry in the LEGO stable with “The LEGO Ninjago Movie”. Ninjago is actually a series on Cartoon Network series here in the States which enjoys consistently strong ratings. Lending their vocal talents to the film are Dave Franco, Justin Theroux and the terrific Jackie Chan.

The Verdict: The first “LEGO” movie opened to USD $69 million, finishing at USD $257 million. “LEGO Batman” slipped a bit to a USD $53 million debut and a USD $175 million cume. “Ninjago” should continue that downward trend but look for it to go off at a perfectly acceptable number and settle into a 3X+ multiplier. USD $41 million.

“Friend Request (Ent Studios)A college student unfriends a classmate on Facebook, commits suicide, then comes back to seek her revenge. And who says there isn’t frisky, lighthearted entertainment at the multiplex any longer? Call me old-fashioned but teen suicide simply isn’t a topic that should be incorporated into a horror film, sorry. Some things are off limits.

The Verdict: The only good part of this movie opening is that I can’t wait for the plethora of options I’ll have for next week’s CJ Review Quote of the Week. And they say there’s no God. USD $2 million.


“Battle of the Sexes (FSL)Emma Stone and Steve Carrell play Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs respectively in the retelling of the infamous 1973 tennis grudge match between the top-of-her-form King and the over-the-hill male chauvinist Riggs. Elisabeth Shue and Bill Pullman co-star. Festival reaction has been excellent and this looks like a crowd pleaser but it is curious that the film’s RT score is only 75, which is perfectly acceptable for a wide opening title but a tad low for a film with a staggered release plan that has Oscar aspirations. The film expands the following week(s).

“Stronger” (RSA)Boston Marathon bombing victim Jeff Bauman battles through the long road to recovery and acceptance in this gut wrenching drama from David Gordon Green. Jake Gyllenhaal plays Bauman and “Orphan Black” star Tatiana Maslany co-stars as his wife Erin.

“Victoria and Abdul” (Focus)Judi Dench plays Queen Victoria for the 42nd time in this story about the relationship between Her Majesty and her Indian assistant, Abdul Karim. Stephen Frears (who directed Dench in the exceptional “Philomena”) sits in the helmer’s chair and Eddie Izzard and Michael Gambon co-star.

Woodshock” (A24)Kirsten Dunst stars in this freaky, drug-infused drama from fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy because, of course, who better to direct films than fashion designers? “Hey, if Tom Ford can do it so can we!”. As long as we don’t now see a remake of “The Red Shoes” from Jimmy Choo or “Star Wars Episode XII” directed by Donatella Versace.

On the EVENT CINEMA front this week we bring some class to the proceedings with The Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance of “Titus Andronicus” on Monday, the Royal Opera House’s “The Magic Flute” this Wednesday and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre Live’s “King Lear” on Thursday. Next Sunday gives us both “Nausicaa: Of the Valley of the Wind” anime and TCM’s 20th anniversary showing of Oliver Stone’s “Wall Street”

Jim Amos
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