After one of the worst summers at the box office ever, Hollywood is about to get an unexpected savior. Pennywise the killer clown is poised to do what neither Dwayne Johnson, Jack Sparrow or Optimus Prime could: open a hit movie. If industry estimates are to be believed, IT—the hugely anticipated horror movie based on Stephen King’s eponymous 1986 novel—is set to open with a mammoth $70 million at the box office. That would rank as the best opening ever for an R-rated, non-sequel horror film. And with the movie industry still reeling from an anemic last few months, IT is just what it needs to properly kick off a crucial fall movie season.
By all intents and purposes, it shouldn’t have gone this way. Before landing in the capable hands of director Andy Muschietti, IT was stuck in development purgatory. At one point, Cary Fukunaga was set to direct, but eventually walked away from the project over creative differences with the studio (aspects of Fukunaga’s script were used in the final version).
Normally, movies that have as complicated a history as IT are doomed from the outset. But as reactions from early screenings began to trickle in across social media, any doubt about whether or not IT would actually be good, quickly faded. And now that the official review embargo has been lifted, we’re happy to report that people really, really love this movie. In fact, thanks to a sparkling 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, this movie about a creepy clown who stalks a group of outcasts in the sleepy town of Derry will likely wind up as one of the best reviewed films of the year.
It’s no wonder IT is tracking the way it is. If the success of films like Get Out and Baby Driver taught as anything about audiences, it‘s that they like watching (gasp!) good movies! And in a year when the real life headlines are often too grim and depressing to bear, audiences are more desperate than ever to have fun at the theater.
If the critics are to be believed, IT is one of the most enjoyable movie-going experiences of the year. “The new IT is narratively coherent, mythologically complex, and above all, fun. Yes, fun. It’s undoubtedly one of the most entertaining experiences I’ve had in a theater all year, and that’s nothing short of astonishing for a film that opens with the brutal attack and partial devouring of a cute little boy,” writes ScreenCrush’s Britt Hayes.
IT also comes at a time when Stephen King fans are still reeling form the disaster that was The Dark Tower. Critics are in agreement that IT immediately joins the canon of Stephen King adaptations that are actually, you know, good.
“The infamous clown is plenty freaky, though it’s the youngsters, bursting with hormones and one-liners, who make IT one of the better Stephen King adaptations,” writes USA Today’s Brian Truitt.
In other words, we’ll see you in line.