2017 has been both an exciting and lacklustre year for major motion pictures. At the end of August, box office sales were the lowest they’ve been since the week following September 11, 2001. This summer, theatres offered moviegoers discounted Tuesday prices until Labour Day. Horror movies in particular were released few and far between in 2017, with February’s Get Out being the only major horror release until August’s Annabelle: Creation. Both films topped the box office, but neither held a flame – or should I say balloon – to the big screen debut of Stephen King’s terrifying 1986 novel, IT.

IT has floated past the $200 million mark in worldwide sales in just one week, popping records like balloons. It was the biggest box-office opening for a horror movie in September, the biggest opening weekend for a horror movie in North America ($123 million), the biggest weekend (Monday and Tuesday gross) in September, the biggest Monday gross for an R-rated horror movie, the third-largest opening weekend of 2017, and the highest-grossing Stephen King movie of all time. Only Beauty and the Beast and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 banked more on opening weekend this year. Considering this film cost Warner Bros. Studios a solid $35 million to make, ITs achievements are quite impressive.

Rookie Director Andy Muschietti (Mama) had his work cut out for him when tackling this monstrous adaptation.  Both the 1986 book and the 1990 movie rest as horror gold, but when the horrifying trailer dropped in March of this year, IT had more than just fans going cuckoo for Pennywise the Dancing Clown. The New Line Cinema trailer starring Bill Skarsgård (Atomic Blonde, Hemlock Grove) broke the record for most watched trailer online in a single day, with 197 million views topping the previous record of 139 million views set by Universal’s The Fate of the Furious, this past December.

In the summer of 2016, however, once it was announced that IT began filming both in and around Toronto, Ontario, Canada – cinematic highlights include the Losers cliff diving at Elora Quarry and the quaint Ontarian area of Port Hope dressed up as the town of Derry – North America saw a surge of random clown sightings popping up all over the internet. Uploaded home videos on several different social media outlets pictured scary clowns standing on the side of roads or walking alone in the woods. As these videos circulated and made headlines, killer clowns became a popular Halloween costume again, and though the random clown sightings faded on the internet (brilliant marketing scheme?) the Hollywood exploration of people’s irrational fear of clowns (coulrophobia) did the opposite.

This year, just two days before the worldwide release of IT, Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s seventh season of American Horror Story: Cult debuted, centering around a small community in Michigan plagued by a cult of killer clowns after the 2016 election. Some could even argue that the United States elected a clown! If you suffer from coulrophobia, now isn’t the best time to turn on the television or go to the movies.