`It’ Leads Theaters Back From Dismal Summer With Latest Haul

“It,” the successful horror film from Warner Bros., returned to lead the box office in its fourth weekend, part of a stellar run that pushed domestic theaters’ September ticket sales to a record.

Based on a Stephen King horror story, the film from Time Warner Inc.’s movie division rose from second place a week ago to collect an estimated $17.3 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, ComScore Inc. said in an emailed statement Sunday. Tom Cruise returned to the big screen this weekend in Universal Pictures’ “American Made,” which placed second with $17.02 million, while another new release “Flatliners” from Sony Corp. was fifth with $6.7 million.

After the worst summer in a decade, theater and studio executives are basking in a recovery, with several big pictures on tap that may extend the rebound. September closed with record sales in North America, surpassing the old mark of $616.4 million set in 2015, according to ComScore. And the credit goes largely to “It” and Time Warner’s film division, which already plans a sequel.

New and returning movies all vied for the top spot. “It” was forecast to produce $16.5 million and “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” was expected to be close behind at $16.4 million, according to analysts at BoxOfficePro.com. “Kingsman” finished third for the weekend with $17 million.

The crime thriller “American Made,” featuring Cruise as a commercial airline pilot recruited by the CIA to provide intelligence on a burgeoning communist threat in Central America, was a hit with critics. The R-rated feature from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures cost $50 million to make and was expected to generate $16.8 million on its North American debut, according to researcher Box Office Mojo.

Sony Pictures’ remake “Flatliners” fared less well with critics. Ellen Page and Kiefer Sutherland are among the stars featured in the tale about a group of medical students, obsessed with the afterlife, who experiment by stopping their hearts for short periods of time to trigger a near-death experience. The film cost $19 million to produce, not including marketing costs, according to Box Office Mojo, which projected $8.3 million for its opening weekend.

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