The Fall movie season is here and it’s by far one of the most anticipated! Especially in Toronto, where the beginning of September marks the start of the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Hoards of celebrities and movie insiders descend on the city to premiere movies and attend galas, but while stars like Joaquin Phoenix and Jennifer Lopez debut their new films, IT: Chapter 2 managed to float to the top of the box office with an impressive opening weekend gross.

Fittingly, IT: Chapter 2 boasts the second-largest horror and September openings of all time (with $91 million domestically) falling right behind the film’s first installment, IT, which made $127 million in its opening weekend in 2017. IT: Chapter 2 also earned the fifth-largest opening for an R-rated movie behind Deadpool, Deadpool 2, IT and Matrix Reloaded. 

So what makes the IT movies so compelling? Why have they floated to the very top of the horror crop and what does Warner Bros. have in store for these characters moving forward? In many ways, the Losers Club and Pennywise the Clown (from the book, TV miniseries and movies) have become the horror genre’s very own live-action superheroes/villains and just like the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), the DCEU (DC Extended Universe) or Walt Disney’s live-action remakes, the Stephen King Cinematic Universe is upon us!


Warner Bros. Studios produced IT and IT: Chapter 2 entirely in Southern Ontario, specifically Toronto and surrounding areas. Stephen King himself makes a cameo in the nearly 3-hour sequel (à la Stan Lee in the MCU) and moving into November, Doctor Sleep (aka The Shining sequel) will hit theatres everywhere! King himself spoke about the resurgence of his cinematic adaptations and announced on The View alongside Whoopi Goldberg that the Academy Award-winning television host will star alongside Alexander Skarsgard (the brother of Bill Skarsgard who plays evil Pennywise the Clown) in a new TV miniseries adaptation of  Stephen King’s The Stand premiering on CBS All Access.

Back to the clown in question – the opening scene of IT: Chapter 2 has proven to spark some controversy amongst movie-goers in the LGBTQ+ community. The hard-to-watch scene depicts a brutal and terrifying homophobic attack taken from the pages of the original book (where the scene is even more harrowing and violent). King used to liberally write anti-gay and black slurs into his characters’ dialogue, but the scene in the book, like the scene in the movie, was and is meant to shine a light on homophobic behaviours and in turn, exploit them as cruel and evil. Something this film does a very good job at. It should be hard to watch! The difference is that the majority of people watching IT: Chapter 2 have never been on the receiving end of homophobia, so to see it in the opening sequence of the second-biggest horror movie of all time not only validates our struggles as queer people, it puts LGBTQ+ characters at the front and center of mainstream horror. I won’t tell you what happens, but don’t expect Pennywise the Clown to swoop in and save the day, he’s a child-murdering clown for crying out loud!

A little long for a horror at close to 3 hours, but almost needed to build the emotions and the characters and our connection with them. In general the film is a great story about friendships, working through our fears, and it doubles up on the scares, the blood, and the balloons from part one. It’s an enjoyable time at a dark movie theatre for horror fans.

3 Popcorn Kernels / 5


About the Author

Joey Viola is the Co-Founder of MoJo Toronto and an LGBTQ community leader who utilizes his passion and flair for the art of writing by bringing a fresh perspective in reviewing entertainment and advocating for equality, tolerance, and social/political justice.