How ‘IT’ Became One of the Biggest Horror Movies of All Time

Drew Dietsch

IT just had one of the most massive and unexpected debuts in cinematic history. The Stephen King adaptation shattered expectations in every way. With an opening weekend take of $123 million, here are just some of the records IT now holds:

  • Biggest September opening weekend
  • Largest Fall opening
  • Biggest opening for a horror film
  • Largest number of screens for an R-rated movie
  • Second largest R-rated opening (behind Deadpool)
  • Fifth highest grossing R-rated horror film of all time

And this is after only a single weekend. Expect IT to continue to break records and become an even bigger phenomenon. But, exactly why did this particular horror film hit so big? Early estimates had the movie tracking at a maximum of $80 million. What led to such an enormous swell of interest? FANDOM breaks it down, below.

Marketing

We can’t stress enough how important marketing is in this day and age. Much like DeadpoolIT took huge advantage of social media channels to get the word out. Not to mention that the trailers and teasers we saw clearly got the film’s concept and tone across.

There was also a clear attempt in the marketing to sell IT as more than just another typical horror release. That’s not a slag against the horror genre at all. But a lot of horror films are sold as easy thrills for a date night. IT was presented as an event and audiences responded in kind.

Nostalgia

We also have to take into account how beloved this property is. Stephen King's novel is one of his most notable and most read. Plus, the 1990 miniseries is a nostalgia classic. The rule of thumb is that pop culture comes back around every twenty years -- much like the ravenous Pennywise who awakens every twenty-seven years to feed. Children are now adults after twenty years have passed, and the things they grew up with become touchstones for their lives.

IT hit both fans of the miniseries as well as fans of the 1980s in general thanks to the film's era. That wide spectrum of nostalgia was a clear factor in the film's ability to tap into the widest audience possible.

Timing

Let's be honest: success is often about being in the right place at the right time. IT had the benefit of following up a dismal few weeks at the box office in regards to attendance. That doesn't mean there weren't good movies out there -- I thoroughly enjoyed The Hitman's Bodyguard -- but there wasn't anything that felt necessary to see on the big screen.

IT took advantage of this long lull and made itself feel like a movie you needed to see with a packed audience. September is usually a dumping ground for less hyped movies, so IT staked its claim for the month and that timing paid off.

Quality

The last thing we have to highlight seems like an obvious one but deserves the spotlight: IT is a good movie. Granted, poor movies do well and great movies flop all the time, but IT is definitely being boosted by the fact that Warner Bros./New Line Cinema treated this movie with respect and polish. The word-of-mouth on the film has been fantastic and that's going to drive people to the theater more than anything.

I'm a horror fan who has been dying to see the genre be treated like A+ event filmmaking. The success of IT is nothing but uplifting for me. This is cause for celebration. And if you haven't seen the movie yet, don't hesitate any longer. This is one that deserves it.

Drew Dietsch
Drew Dietsch has written for CHUD.com, the News-Press, WhatCulture, and releases a weekly film review podcast, The Drew Reviews Podcast. He'll yak your ear off about horror movies, Jaws, RoboCop, and/or Batman if you let him. www.thedrewreviews.com
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