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Stephen King Adaptation ‘It’ Scares Up September Box Office Record

Horror flick scores $117.2 million opening, taking stink off August slump at movies.

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A terrifying demonic clown has put a smile on Hollywood executives’ faces.

Warner Bros.’s It butchered the record for a September box office debut by nearly $70 million—previous champ Hotel Transylvania 2 earned $48.5 million in 2015)—and scored the largest opening for a horror movie ever. (Those bragging rights, however, require categorizing Jurassic World as an action flick.)

Most importantly for an industry reeling from a dreadful season, in which box office receipts were down 14.5% from last year and finishing below $4 billion total for the first time since 2006, It has scared up some much-needed optimism.

“It shows the power of one movie’s over-performance to boost not only the box office fortunes, but also the morale of the film industry which has been so fragile,” Paul Dergarabedian, senior box office analyst for ComScore, told RealClearLife.

The film, based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, carved its swath through multiplex boosted by good reviews, a Stand by Me-meets-Stranger Things-evoking marketing campaign and, possibly, a universal fear of clowns, said Dergarabedian.

But it may also be partly due to audiences’ desire to see a good movie in the theater after weeks of tepidly-reviewed major releases. With the Tom Cruise-vehicle, American Made, and the comic book movie sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, set to open this month, there is some cautious optimism among insiders. Hollywood needs all the help it can get, since box office is still down 5 1/2 percent from this time last year.

“September could be the August we should have had,” said Dergarabedian.