Box Office: ‘It’ Will Stay No. 1 Over ‘Mother!,’ ‘American Assassin’

After “It’s” stunning performance last weekend, there is no question: the killer clown will once again float to the top of the box office charts.

New Line’s adaptation of the Stephen King novel shattered records with a $123 million debut — the biggest opening ever for the month of September. Even with a steep 60% drop, the movie would make about $50 million, which would certainly be enough to top the fresh competition. Since its opening weekend, “It” has earned $8.8 million on Monday and $11.4 million on Tuesday — the later figure is a record among horror movies and for the month of September.

While “It” has been praised by some horror fans for its hard R rating, the MPAA attribution is shared by this weekend’s two new wide release entries. Starting with “American Assassin,” a joint production between CBS Films and Lionsgate. The adaptation of Vince Flynn’s 2010 novel of the same name is expected to open in the low teens from 3,100 locations.

Michael Cuesta directed the pic about a young man played by Dylan O’Brien who enlists in the CIA as a black ops recruit. He is trained by a Cold War veteran played by Michael Keaton. As the story unravels, the duo uncover an operation intent on starting a world war, and team up to attempt to stop it. Sanaa Lathan, Shiva Negar, and Taylor Kitsch also star.

Then there’s “Mother!” which has hit the festival circuit in full force, screening at Venice and Toronto, and prompting a vocal response from its advocates, critics, and those who can’t make heads or tails of what they saw. The Paramount release directed by Darren Aronofsky is also expected to score in the low teens from 2,367 locations. “Mother!” is also launching in 16 international markets this week, including France, Australia, Germany, Russia, and the U.K.

Although Aronofsky’s latest release was the big-budget project “Noah,” the new film is more in the vein of “Black Swan.” Both are horror films with a female movie star at the center — then, Natalie Portman, now, Jennifer Lawrence. But the films are getting a different rollout.

“Black Swan” was a box office hit thanks in no small part to its awards season push that ended with an Oscar for Portman. But unlike “Mother!,” “Black Swan” got a gradual expansion starting in early December. By the end of its run, it had grossed almost $107 million domestic, and $329.4 worldwide. “Mother!,” meanwhile, is starting with a bang, including an targeted ad that ran last weekend before “It.”

After a horrifyingly slow summer at the domestic box office, “It” is doing its part to reverse course. Much of the film’s success is credited to its gripping marketing campaign that focused on a single red balloon. Critics were generally receptive to the adaptation (83% on Rotten Tomatoes) from director Andy Muschietti, who is already working on a second installment.

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