‘It Chapter Two’ Dominates Box Office

Like the lone entertainer at a desolate children’s birthday party, “It Chapter Two” and its killer clown effectively took over movie theaters this weekend, making more money than the rest of the top ten movies combined.

The only major newcomer at the box office, “It Chapter Two” sold about $91 million in tickets at domestic theaters Friday through Sunday. It picked up an additional $94 million overseas this weekend, according to the studio.

Those figures are a success for Warner Bros., the film’s distributor, even if they lag behind the record-breaking opening that the first “It” had when it debuted to roughly $120 million in North American ticket sales in 2017. They’re also a welcome jolt for theaters, where last weekend a small group of holdover movies had been jockeying for fumes.

The original “It” followed a group of children haunted by a demonic clown in small-town America in the summer of 1989. The movie’s wide appeal — abetted by its recognizable villain (Bill Skarsgard’s clown, Pennywise) and a “Stranger Things”-like formula, in which kids face supernatural mysteries in the 1980s — was a large factor in 2017 becoming the biggest box office year ever for horror.

Like the first movie, “It Chapter Two” was adapted from the Stephen King novel and directed by Andrés Muschietti. It is set 27 years after the events of the first film, with adult actors including James McAvoy, Jessica Chastain and Bill Hader playing grown-up versions of characters from the original. They are reassembled in their hometown to address the return of the dangerous and mysterious Pennywise (Skarsgard).

While reviews for “It Chapter Two” weren’t exactly weak, the movie didn’t do as well with critics as the first one — the sequel currently holds a 64 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Its predecessor holds an 86.

In his review of “It Chapter Two” for The New York Times, A.O. Scott wrote that “this 2-hour-49-minute movie drags more than it jumps, wearing out its premise and possibly also your patience as it lumbers toward the final showdown.”

[Read our critic’s review of “It Chapter Two.”]

The first “It” ran two hours and fifteen minutes. In addition to shifting the pace, the sequel’s longer running time might have turned off some potential audiences — though the runaway success of “Avengers: Endgame” (running time: three hours and one minute) earlier this year is an argument against that notion.

“It Chapter Two” certainly didn’t have much serious competition. In a distant second was “Angel Has Fallen,” a Gerard Butler thriller from Lionsgate and Millennium that saw about $6 million in domestic ticket sales this weekend, its third in theaters. Next best was Universal’s comedy “Good Boys,” which brought in about $5.4 million during its fourth weekend. Rounding out the top five were Disney’s “The Lion King,” which in its eighth weekend managed roughly $4.2 million, and Sony’s “Overcomer,” which sold around $3.8 million in tickets during its third weekend.

Gabe Cohn writes about television, fine art, film and other topics related to culture and the arts. He joined The Times in 2017.

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