By Seth Kelley
LOS ANGELES (Variety.com) - "It" continues to post terrifyingly huge numbers, while "Mother!" opens with a thud.
"It," from Warner Bros. and New Line, expects to finish its second weekend with $60 million from 4,103 locations. That would make its domestic gross so far $218.7 million -- a record for the highest earning September release ever. The old record-holder was 1986's "Crocodile Dundee" with $174.8 million. Broken down by day this weekend, "It" earned $19.4 million on Friday and $26.2 million on Saturday. Sunday's take is estimated to be about $14.5 million. 389 Imax screens are expected to account for just over $3 million of the film's take in North America this weekend.
Overseas, "It" is pulling in an additional $60.3 million in 56 markets. That raises its international total to $152.6 million and the worldwide tally to $371.3 million.
Based on Stephen King's novel, "It" opened last weekend with an enormous domestic pull of $123.4 million. The R-rated title, reportedly made for about $35 million, stars Bill Skarsgard as an evil clown named Pennywise who terrorizes children. The rest of the cast includes Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Finn Wolfhard, Wyatt Oleff, Chosen Jacobs, Jack Dylan Grazer, Nicholas Hamilton, Jaeden Lieberher, and Jackson Robert Scott.
Meanwhile "Mother!" is struggling. The Paramount release directed by Darren Aronofsky is expected to earn $7.5 million from 2,368 locations. That's an all-time low for wide releases starring Jennifer Lawrence. One contributing factor to the movie's bottom line is that audiences entirely rejected it and bestowed an F CinemaScore. That's despite a critical split that landed the polarizing movie a generally positive 68% on Rotten Tomatoes.
Women made up the bulk of the audience (56%), and slightly more than half of the audience (52%) was over the age of 35. The launch was driven by a marketing campaign that shrouded the R-rated movie in mystery and didn't give much away regarding plot. In addition to Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris, and Michelle Pfeiffer also star.
Another fresh R-rated launch, "American Assassin" -- a joint production between CBS Films and Lionsgate -- is expecting an opening of $14.8 million from 3,154 locations. The audience breakdown was 55% Male and 29% under the age of 35. The film is an adaptation of Vince Flynn's 2010 novel, and stars Dylan O'Brien as a CIA black ops recruit who is trained by a Cold War veteran (Michael Keaton). The film's opening is comparable to 2014's "John Wick," which opened to $14.4 million on its way to launch a franchise with $43 million in domestic earnings.
"We feel that we're off to a very solid start," Shaun Barber, Lionsgate's EVP and general sales manager of domestic theatrical distribution, said, pointing to the A CinemaScore the movie earned from the under 25 audience, and a strong September box office so far. As for plans to make the movie a franchise, he said "it's very early in the run" and "too soon to call."
Open Road's "Home Again" should land in fourth this weekend with $5.3 million from 3,036 locations (only a 38% drop from last weekend). "The Hitman's Bodyguard," from Lionsgate, continues to stay in the top five with about $3.6 million from 3,272 spots. The rest of the top ten is made up of "Annabelle: Creation" ($2.6 million); Taylor Sheridan's "Wind River" ($2.6 million), which has now out-grossed "Hell of High Water" in North America; "Leap!" ($2.1 million); "Spider-Man: Homecoming" ($1.9 million); and "Dunkirk" ($1.3 million).
In limited release, Annapurna and Amazon's "Brad's Status" is tracking to earn $100,179 this weekend from four locations. Mike White wrote and directed the movie starring Ben Stiller as a man who is constantly comparing his life to those of his college friends. Austin Abrams, Jenna Fischer, Luke Wilson, and Michael Sheen also star in the flick, which has been generally well-reviewed (83% on Rotten Tomatoes). The film is expected to expand to 100 locations next weekend.
Amazon Studios' head of marketing and distribution Bob Berney noted that "fathers are really relating to the film" and Stiller's performance.
After a catastrophic summer of moviegoing, a strong September so far (39.4% better than last year, powered by "It") is leading a gradual recovery. The year to date box office is now 4.9% behind last year -- up from 6.5% behind at the end of the summer. The domestic box office so far this year has earned $7.9 billion.