The new adaptation of Stephen King's It exceeded even the wildest of expectations in its opening weekend, grossing $123 million domestically to claim the title of biggest-ever debut for a horror film. IMAX screens account for $7 million of the movie's record intake, which now sits at $198 million worldwide, but CEO Rich Gelfond revealed his company came this close to missing the paper boat entirely.
"It was getting a lot of positive buzz — not this positive," Gelfond told TheWrap. "In fact, I think people thought it would open to about $70 million. So everybody was surprised by about 100 percent by what the results were."
He noted that Marvel's Inhumans, which is the middle of a two-week limited run ahead of its broadcast premiere, nearly took the place of the hit horror film on the IMAX slate. "We were playing a September fill-in that we had helped create, which was the first two episodes of Marvel’s Inhumans, an ABC series," Gelfond said. "[Inhumans] did fine in its first weekend, [grossing] two-and-a-half million dollars, but when you saw a train like that coming down the tracks in It, it made a lot of sense to regroup. And we did that with very little marketing and very little time to get in it. We made very nice revenues."
Gelfond concluded by crediting some of IMAX's recent technological advancements as the major reasons the company was able to capitalize on Pennywise the Clown's record-shattering opening. With automated DMR (Digital Media Remastering), the process through which regular films are converted to the IMAX format, and a digital shipment process, the company no longer needs to rely on physical copies being sent out to theater chains in the event that a movie exceeds initial projections.
Based on Stephen King’s classic novel of the same name, director Andy Muschietti's It stars Bill Skarsgård as Pennywise, Finn Wolfhard, Jaeden Lieberher, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, Jack Dylan Grazer, Chosen Jacobs, Wyatt Oleff, Nicholas Hamilton, Owen Teague and Logan Thompson.