When It came to horror movies in the past month, New Line owned the genre. Annabelle: Creation crossed the $100M threshold Tuesday, while It will click past 1973’s The Exorcist $232.9M lifetime domestic gross Thursday to become the highest-grossing horror pic of all time.
Warner Bros. is calling the record from a pure genre standpoint, with all other pics such as The Sixth Sense ($293M), Jaws ($260M) and Will Smith’s sci-fi zombie pic I Am Legend ($256.4M) considered horror hybrids. Sixth Sense is drama suspense, Jaws action suspense, and I Am Legend — which Warner Bros. produced and released — is considered sci-fi/fantasy by the studio. Despite Kingsman: The Golden Circle will take the No. 1 spot from It this weekend, the Stephen King adaptation is expected to hold quite well with $30M, down 50 percent in its third go-round. The pic, directed by Andy Muschietti and adapted by Chase Palmer, Gary Dauberman, and Cary Fukunaga, will have a domestic running cume near $270M by Sunday.
In regards to the early fall, It is the largest title ever between the Labor Day-to-November frame; the horror film eventually will beat Gravity ($274M), which is October’s highest-grossing title ever stateside. By Thursday, It will stand around $386M at the worldwide box office, still behind Exorcist‘s $441.3M. You don’t get to these numbers strictly playing to a genre fanbase; other adults and legacy fans of the 1986 King novel are jumping in their cars to see this movie.
Annabelle: Creation has outstripped its 2014 predecessor by 19 percent at the box office. And while that first spinoff wasn’t as revered by horrorphiles as much as its core Conjuring series, Annabelle: Creation, directed by David F. Sandberg and written by Gary Dauberman, raised the prestige of this franchise so that it wasn’t just another Chucky pic. Critics also like the prequel better than the first, 68 percent fresh to 29 percent Rotten. Annabelle: Creation also benefited from being the only franchise title in what was a dry August marketplace, in addition to the fact that it was the only major studio-released horror film during the summer (there were two other indie horror pics that didn’t resonate, Broad Green’s Wish Upon and A24’s It Comes at Night). Another big draw for horror fans when it came to Annabelle: Creation was the producer credit for James Wan, the original guy behind The Conjuring pics.
High fives again to Warner Bros. President of Worldwide marketing Blair Rich, who oversees New Line’s product, and to the label’s horror production execs Walter Hamada and Dave Neustadter as well as WB senior production exec Niija Kuykendall, who worked in shepherding It.