Box Office: ‘It’ Is Now The Highest-Grossing R-Rated …

Stephen King's 'It'Photo by Brooke Palmer - 2016 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

It, based on the classic/iconic Stephen King novel, has now earned $236.3 million domestic. That means, amusingly enough, that King celebrated his 70th birthday by watching one of his movies hit several benchmarks. First, it is now unquestionably the biggest Stephen King adaptation ever, earning more in North America than the adjusted totals of The Green Mile ($136m in 1999/$233m adjusted for 2017 ticket prices). Second, the picture has already soared past $400m worldwide, earning $409m thus far (not counting whatever it made overseas yesterday). That puts it ahead of Prometheus as essentially the second-biggest R-rated scary movie ever behind only The Exorcist ($441m).

The $35 million horror drama has now earned more in unadjusted domestic grosses than The Exorcist ($232.9m, counting the 2000 reissue), giving it the top spot among R-rated scary movies. Thats a record that has held for 44 years. And by the end of the weekend, with around $30m for the Fri-Sun frame and around $266m after 17 days, the film will be the third-biggest supernatural horror movie of all time behind The Exorcist and The Sixth Sense ($292m in 1999). The Warner Bros./Time Warner Inc. and New Line release will eventually become the fourth R-rated movie to top $300m domestic, behind American Sniper ($350m), Deadpool ($363m) and The Passion of the Christ ($372m in 2004).

It is in comparison to other R-rated movies where the numbers look a little weaker when inflation is factored in since a lot of the bigger-grossing R-rated movies come from the prior decades when Hollywood made more mainstream R-rated movies. In the spring of 1990, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the exception while Pretty Woman was the rule. In terms of inflation, It is currently the 67th-biggest R-rated movie, and a potential total of $330 million by the time it finishes would put it merely in the top 30 for tickets sold for an R-rated movie. But the picture looks a lot rosier when we discuss horror movies and scary flicks.

Conventional horror movies arent the sort of thing that usually did massive business even in the 1980s and 1990s. The biggest-grossing Nightmare On Elm Street or Halloween sequels were thrilled to approach $50 million domestic. Yes, inflation puts some of those slasher sequels (or Saw installments) over $100m and the first two Scream films have over/under $200m a pop by todays ticket price standards. Yet, it is still an event when something that qualifies as horror, be it The Conjuring or Split, makes it past $100m domestic. But It has made so much money so quickly that its barreling its way up the inflation-adjusted horror list as well.

Even adjusted for inflation, itll be the fourth-biggest supernatural horror movie ever by Sunday, behind The Amityville Horror, The Sixth Sense and The Exorcist and the fifth-biggest R-rated horror movie behind Alien, The Amityville Horror, Fatal Attractionand The Exorcist. And assuming it makes it past $330 million by the end of its run, itll be the 13th-biggest scary movie of all time in adjusted North American grosses.

If it ends its run past $327 million (just ahead of adjusted grosses of The Mummy Returns, I Am Legend and War of the Worlds), It will be ahead of every somewhat scary movie save for Signs($228m in 2002)/$348m adjusted),Fatal Attraction($156m in 1987/$352m adjusted),Psycho($32m in 1960/$379m adjusted),Gremlins($153m in 1984/$404m adjusted),The Lost World: Jurassic Park($229m in 1997/$443m adjusted),House of Wax($23.5m in 1954/$449m adjusted),The Sixth Sense($292m in 1999/$512m adjusted),Ghostbusters($229m in 1984/$604m adjusted),Jurassic World($652m in 2015/$703m adjusted),Jurassic Park($357m in 1993/$766m adjusted),The Exorcist($233m in 1973/$983m adjusted) andJaws($260m in 1975/$1.1 billion adjusted).

And if you want to argue that some of those dont count, well that just pushes Its ranking a bit higher. In terms of worldwide destinations, its already on course to become the rare R-rated movie to crack $500 million worldwide, joining Terminator 2, The Revenant, American Sniper, Ted, The Mermaid, Fifty Shades of Grey, The Hangover part II, The Passion of the Christ, The Matrix Reloaded, Deadpool and (the unrated but insanely violent) Wolf Warrior 2 (which has $870m worldwide). And if we merely do the inflationary math for The Exorcist, that movie would earn nearly $1.9 billion worldwide in 2017 dollars, not accounting for overseas expansion and/or potential IMAX/3D bumps.

Oh, and this may be for another day, but we shouldnt get too crazy about It earning more in North America than overseas. First of all, thats not a bar for success provided the numbers are big enough. Second of all, we dont want to penalize a movie for over-performing domestically. And third, if we want movies that arent $150-$200 million action fantasy franchise starters that are tailored made to theoretically score overseas, then we ought to be happy when big movies dont need overseas grosses to break even. Its just another way that It is performing like a Star Wars movie for horror.

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