Led by the smash ‘It,’ Hollywood rediscovers the public thirst for R-rated films

AS THE WEEKEND’S top three domestic films duke it out within a hairbreadth of each other commercially, there’s a larger convergence to notice.

The surprise is not that the Stephen King horror hit “It,” the Tom Cruise crime thriller “American Made” and Matthew Vaughn’s comic-book sequel “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” each grossed $17 million over the box-office weekend, with Monday afternoon’s final numbers still to decide the actual box-office champ. No, the most striking aspect is that all three top films in North America are rated “R.”

Yes, mature filmgoers, Hollywood has fully rediscovered the marketable R-rated film.

For the second time in three weeks, in fact, R-rated films hit the domestic trifecta, with “It,” Michael Keaton’s “American Assassin” and Jennifer Lawrence’s “mother!” topping the charts — just one week after “It,” “The Hitman’s Bodyguard,” “Annabelle: Creation” and “Wind River,” all rated R, dominated the previous weekend’s top five.

The massive “It,” which has already grossed nearly $300 million domestically and $553 million worldwide (on a $35 million production budget), also led the highest-grossing domestic September ever ($695 million), not adjusting for inflation.

And this isn’t just a September trend. The larger picture is that year to year, Hollywood has decided that the R rating is no longer the barrier to mass popularity that it recently was perceived to be.

Consider: In 2016, only a lone R-rated film (“Deadpool”) cracked the year’s top 24 movies in North America.

In 2017, however, that total has soared to eight: “It,” “Logan,” “Get Out,” “Girls Trip,” “Fifty Shades Darker” “Baby Driver,” “Annabelle: Creation” and “John Wick:…

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