Box Office Guy: Chapter Two

Patrick Reardon

It was a pretty rough summer at the box office for every studio that doesn't have Mickey Mouse as its mascot. So let's pour one out and say a final goodbye to the following summer box office disappointments: "Dark Phoenix," "Men in Black International," "Stuber," "Where'd You Go, Bernadette," "Blinded by the Light," "Shaft," "Child's Play," "Long Shot," "The Angry Birds Movie 2," "The Kitchen," "The Art of Racing in the Rain," "Late Night," etc. To make up for such a brutal summer the studios are going to need a lot of their fall offerings to hit. Fortunately, this weekend features a big dog that will deliver a desperately needed box office boost.

"It Chapter Two" was inevitable after the original opened up with $123.4m on this same weekend two years ago, on the way to a domestic total of $327.5m. Both numbers were record breaking in the horror genre. But brief history lesson for the youngsters, if you adjust for inflation "The Exorcist" is easily the highest grossing film of time (at roughly $997m domestically). Regardless, "It" was a legit box office sensation in 2017, which brings us to this weekend.

"It Chapter Two" is opening up in a ridiculously wide 4,400+ theaters this weekend and has virtually no competition. Fandango has reported that it's posted the best ever pre-sale numbers for a horror movie. At a glance it appears that everything is in line for "Chapter Two" to improve upon its predecessor. But I think there are two obstacles that will prevent this from happening.

1. "It Chapter Two" Won't Be As Good As The First Film

I've always wanted to read Stephen King's "It." But I picked up a copy in Barnes & Noble the other week and the 1,184-page count scared me off once again. I could read three other books in the time it would take me to get through that tome! The thing must have weighed twenty pounds. But I know a lot of King fans who swear the first half of the book is much better than the second half (upon which this latest movie is based).

And I watched the "It" miniseries on ABC back in the early 1990s and night one was superior to the second night. There was something far more compelling about watching children band together to fight evil than it was to watch their adult counterparts do the same on night two (even though the late, great John Ritter was involved). Although "Chapter Two" boasts a lot of new A-list faces (Jessica Chastain, Bill Hader, James McAvoy, etc.) I think the kids will be missed this time around. Reviews have been mixed thus far and I believe a lot of this has to do with my second major concern.

2. "It Chapter Two" Is REALLY Long

The first "It" ran long by horror film standards at a hefty 135 minutes. But "Chapter Two" is clocking in at a ridiculous 169 minutes. For perspective that's 13 minutes longer than "The Revenant" and just 6 minutes shorter than "The Godfather." If VHS tapes were still a thing "It Chapter Two" would take up two cassette tapes. The runaway success of the first film meant that Andy Muschietti had the clout where he could approach the three hour mark, but are we sure he should be doing this? I can't recall a mainstream horror movie ever coming close to this running time and I think this will be the biggest impediment to topping the first chapter.

If it seems like I'm down on the prospects for "It Chapter Two", I'm really not. I still think it going to have a monster weekend around the $100m mark, just not as monstrous as the last film. With success all but assured the FML pricing gods have split "Chapter Two" into daily pricing.

Daily pricing was in effect for the last "It" movie and both the Saturday and Sunday options provided more bang for the buck. The F/Sa/Su breakdown for "It" was 41%/36%/23%. I expect a similar trajectory for "Chapter Two" so I'm leaning towards a 2x Saturday anchor as my strategy. I think there is decent value with the Sunday option as well, but I expect the first full slate of NFL games will limit the ceiling.

Weekend Picks

My picks for this weekend's top 5 in total box office (this week's cost in FML Bux in parentheses):

  1. It Chapter Two - Friday (FB$474)
  2. It Chapter Two - Saturday (FB$409)
  3. It Chapter Two - Sunday (FB$251)
  4. Angel Has Fallen (FB$60)
  5. Good Boys (FB$53)

Bonus Pick of the Week: "It Chapter Two" (FB$409) Two years ago this weekend the Saturday option for "It" easily captured the bonus. On the debut weekend of "It" every holdover amongst the top fifteen films dropped at least 46%. With such weak competition this weekend I expect history to repeat itself.

Coming Attractions

Next weekend an adaptation of the best selling novel "The Goldfinch" will try to get a head start in the awards derby and Jennifer Lopez leads a group of former strip club employees who try to turn the tables on their former Wall Street clientele in "Hustlers."

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