When it comes to evaluating the financial performance of top movies, it isn’t about what a film grosses at the box office. The true tale is told when production budgets, P&A, talent participations and other costs collide with box office grosses and ancillary revenues from VOD to DVD and TV. To get close to that mysterious end of the equation, Deadline is repeating our Most Valuable Blockbuster tournament for 2017, using data culled by seasoned and trusted sources.

IT
WARNER BROS.

THE FILM

Despite the eerie short film turned into the horror feature Mama that showed such promise in the sibling Argentinian duo Andy & Barbara Muschietti, no one could have predicted that It would scare up as much business as it did to become the sleeper fright phenomenon that it did. Despite the formidable Stephen King brand, It was turned into a pretty good miniseries 27 years ago. This was a collision of several factors: it turns out that millennials are as creeped out by clowns as we were; the book was a formative childhood influence of Andy Muschietti, and his passion showed; and New Line’s Blair Rich sold it with a killer marketing campaign that propelled her to the top marketing spot at Warner Bros. Down to the visuals of the sinister clown Pennywise that were as mesmerizing to audiences as the clown was to his pint-sized victims, It was textbook on how to sell a horror film. Also smart was splitting the source material into two distinctive installments, that makes it easy for a sequel to pick up the scares 27 years later with an adult cast. With another King novel adaptation, Dark Tower, playing sluggishly in the August corridor, Warner Bros. and New Line shrewdly saved It for the post Labor Day weekend. The results were frightfully good. It opened to a mind blowing $123.4M,  not only the best September stateside debut ever, but beating by 155% the previous record held by Hotel Transylvania 2 ($48.4M opening). According to PostTrak, It played roughly equally to all four quad 25+/25- under demos, a true sign of a film’s tentpole appeal.

THE BOX SCORE

Here are the costs and revenues as our experts see them:

THE BOTTOM LINE
As opposed to the $150M-$200M-plus costs that Warner Bros. shells out to make its DC superhero titles, New Line’s It cost a comparatively paltry $35M. That’s high for a genre entry — The Conjuring cost $19.5M — but nothing for a movie that performed like It did, even when you factor in a global tentpole P&A spend of $154M. At $327.4M domestic/$700.4M worldwide, It is the highest-grossing horror title ever, beating the previous record held by 1973’s The Exorcist ($232.9M domestic, $441.3m). And the Muschietti title is clearly the most profitable for any genre film at $293.7M, beating recent hits such as Get Out ($124.3M), and The Conjuring ($161.7M) and The Conjuring 2 ($98.3M).