Stephen King's It Is Terrorizing The Netflix Top 10, And For Good Reason

When Warner Bros. first announced they were making a film adaptation of Stephen King's "It," many were convinced the project was unnecessary. Tim Curry's portrayal of Pennywise the Clown in the 1990 miniseries terrified audiences for nearly three decades and trying to recapture that horror felt like an impossible task. However, when "It: Chapter One" finally debuted in 2017, naysayers were quickly quieted. Even through its faults, Andy Muschietti's "It: Chapter One" introduced the story of "It" to a new generation and brought both Pennywise and coulrophobia back into the public consciousness, all while bringing in enough money at the box office to buy a lifetime supply of red balloons. In the five years since the film's release, the popularity of Pennywise has yet to subside, with Bill Skarsgård's memorable look continuing to be a go-to for Halloween costumes. Now, "It: Chapter One" has arrived on Netflix and immediately jumped to the top 10 most-watched films of the week.

The continued love for Pennywise is unsurprising, as "It: Chapter One" far surpasses the 1990 miniseries in quality, due in large part to the dynamic performances of The Losers Club, Bill Denbrough (Jaeden Martell), Eddie Kaspbrak (Jack Dylan Grazer), Ben Hanscom (Jeremy Ray Taylor), Richie Tozier (Finn Wolfhard), Stan Uris (Wyatt Oleff), Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillie), and Mike Hanlon (Chosen Jacobs). For those who grew up with Tim Curry as Pennywise, it may be difficult to understand the longevity of Skarsgård and The Losers Club, but it's high time "It: Chapter One" is recognized as the definitive horror movie for a generation raised on streaming.

It was released at the perfect time

"It: Chapter One" was released at a time when the nostalgia planets aligned in absolute perfect harmony. "Stranger Things" became a worldwide phenomenon the year before, and the highly sought-after demographic of 15- to 24-year-olds was now entrenched in 1980s nostalgia. "It: Chapter One" pushed King's original story from the childhood of the 1950s and the adulthood of the late 1980s into one of a 1980s childhood and 2010s adulthood. Younger generations now had an established familiarity with the aesthetic and cultural landscape thanks to "Stranger Things," and in a meta twist of fate, the series' standout, Finn Wolfhard, was part of the "It" cast, further incentivizing audiences to actually head out to the theaters and watch their new favorite actor star in a horror film.

"It: Chapter One" also came at a time when heavy hitter horror favorites that are currently enjoying a resurgence like "Scream," "Halloween," "Texas Chainsaw Massacre," and "Hellraiser" were all in hibernation. The "Leatherface" prequel released that year went straight to DirecTV, The Weinstein Company's release of "Amityville: The Awakening" was dropped in the midst of Harvey Weinstein's takedown, "Jeepers Creepers III" is forever marred by director Victor Salva's unsavory history as a sexual predator, "Cult of Chucky" went straight to VOD, and most younger audiences had no real reason to be invested in "Alien: Covenant." With the exception of "Jigsaw" who was heading toward retirement, there were no easily identifiable horror icons holding down the fort. 2017 was a great year for original horror releases like "Get Out" and "Happy Death Day," but it was even better for Pennywise to reclaim his rightful throne as a horror icon.

Pennywise lives ... on Netflix, at least

The Netflix top 10 is sincerely one of the most fascinating ways to analyze what the average moviegoer is interested in watching, and the most puzzling entries are usually films that were popular 5 to 10 years ago that are somehow popping back into the public consciousness. The reason for this sudden boom in popularity is almost exclusively related to accessibility. Cable is dying out and streaming services continue to reign supreme. "It: Chapter One" has been (and still is) available on HBO Max since the service's debut, but at the time of publication, Netflix is still at the top of the streaming service hierarchy. Chances are this boost in "It: Chapter One" streams are coming from subscribers who don't also already have HBO Max and are excited to rewatch or introduce new people in their homes to the magic and terror of the 2017 film.

Interestingly enough, "It: Chapter One" isn't the only Stephen King film on the top 10 list, as "The Mist" has also been sitting pretty in the streaming popularity contest for the past few days. Granted, every algorithm is different, but there's a good chance that upon completing "It: Chapter One," films like "The Mist" and "Gerald's Game" are the recommended suggestions. The Netflix homepage currently dons an image of Pennywise offering a red balloon to a silhouetted Georgie Denbrough, which is only going to continue boosting the film's popularity. 

Five years after its release, "It: Chapter One" continues to scare audiences of all ages, but we have Gen Z to thank for its refusal to leave pop-culture consciousness.