“It”, based on a Steven King novel, blistered the box office with a first-weekend take of $117 million. U.S. box office revenue has been extremely weak for weeks.
According to Box Office Mojo:
With a monster, $117 million opening weekend Warner Bros. and New Line’s It has delivered a record-breaking opening, breathing a little life back into the slumping domestic box office. The film has claimed the largest September opening, largest Fall opening, the largest opening for an R-rated horror film, not to mention the largest opening weekend for a horror film of any MPAA rating, and tops Open Road’s new release Home Again in second place by nearly $110 million.
It is astounding that two movies should do so well after such a long drought for the industry.
The success raises the question of whether movie theaters have had ticket sales slumps because of movies which have done poorly, or the movement of consumers to watch films on small screens at home. Companies like NetFlix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) have essentially become their own studios creating their own long form premium content. And, of course, the run Hollywood moves as they move out of theaters and into the rental market.
Big theater chain AMC Entertainment (NYSE: AMC) announced poor quarterly earnings recently as EPS dropped from $.24 last year to a loss of $1.35. Management blamed movie producers and not an ongoing industry trend. According to Variety:
In a statement, AMC chief Adam Aron laid the blame for the poor results on the movies. Flops and duds such as “King Arthur” and “Baywatch” have dragged down ticket sales. Hits such as “Wonder Woman” have helped ease the pain, but the output from major studios has not matched the commercial success of previous years.
Aron better hope “It” is the start of a trend.