After only being in theaters for two weeks, IT has already become the highest-grossing R-rated horror picture ever, as far as domestic ticket sales go. Let that sink in for a moment. The previous R-rated horror-movie record-holder? A little movie by the name of The Exorcist. The 1973 horror hit directed by William Friedkin and written by William Peter Blatty was an absolute cultural phenomenon at the time of its release. While The Exorcist is an amazing film in its own right, positive buzz in a pre-internet world was buoyed by stories of audience members fainting, crying, and having intense emotional reactions to the film’s more traumatizing moments. People needed to experience that for themselves rather than hear about it second-hand.
IT is a cultural force of a different color. It’s R-rated for good reason, but it’s nowhere near as button-pushy as The Exorcist was when it debuted and remains to this day. However, IT is an easier box-office boom because of its relatively less intense experience; it’s something audiences can revisit again and again for the thrills and chills without the uncomfortable existential conflict posed by a film like The Exorcist. In other words, IT is more marketable, though it’s 100% earned every penny it makes.
That’s a lot of pennies, by the way. Domestically, as Variety reports, it stands at $236.3 million before heading into this weekend; The Exorcist‘s domestic tally topped out at $232.9 million. Now, compared to 1973 dollars, The Exorcist‘s take in the U.S. would be a whopping $983.2 million, if Box Office Mojo’s adjustments are correct; that’s nuts. IT isn’t going to touch that. However, the worldwide total for The Exorcist stands at $441.3 million in its unadjusted state, a number that isn’t far ahead of IT‘s current tally of $404.3 million. Expect that record to fall soon, if not this weekend.
Box office competition in this frame includes the horror film Friend Request, the action-heavy sequel Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and the family-friendly animated flick The LEGO Ninjago Movie. This weekend is the biggest test for IT until Blade Runner 2049 opens October 6th, but I expect big returns for the Stephen King adaptation all the way through the Halloween holiday this season.