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‘House With a Clock in Its Walls’ Ticks Past Expectations With $26.8 Million Opening

Family film nearly matches best opening of director Eli Roth’s career

Universal’s “The House With a Clock in its Walls” is beating analyst expectations after a strong Saturday at the box office, with estimates now at a $26.8 million opening from 3,592 screens.

This $40 million Amblin-produced family film had been projected for an opening in the low $20 million range, but business picked up well after a $7.5 million Friday. Critical reception has been fairly solid, with a B+ on CinemaScore to join a 68 percent Rotten Tomatoes score.

After inflation adjustment, this result matches the best opening for director Eli Roth, who up to this point has made gory horror films like “Cabin Fever” and the “Hostel” trilogy. His previous opening weekend best was scored by the first “Hostel” in 2006 with $19.5 million, which adjusts to $27.6 million in 2018 money.

“Clock” will be the major family film offering in theaters for the next two weekends, with “Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween” coming out Oct. 12. With a responsible mid-level budget and solid word-of-mouth, this movie will now look to leg out over the next few weeks, perhaps even after “Goosebumps 2” comes out if families are still interested in the film as a Halloween offering.

The three other wide releases opening this weekend did not do nearly as well, the most notable being the Michael Moore anti-Trump documentary “Fahrenheit 11/9.” Released by Briarcliff Entertainment on 1,719 screens, the film made just $3.1 million after trackers expected a $5.7 million start. By comparison, Moore’s 2007 documentary “Sicko” gross $3.6 million from 702 screens.

Then there’s Amazon Studios’ “Life Itself.” Despite being written and directed by “This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman and sporting a star-studded cast led by Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Antonio Banderas and Annette Bening, the film was panned with a 13 percent Rotten Tomatoes score and only made $2.1 million this weekend from 2,609 screens. (Amazon had paid $10 million for the distribution rights to this film.) Worst of this weekend’s openings is NEON’s “Assassination Nation,” which only grossed $995,000 from 1,403 locations for a per screen average of just $709.

With such poor performances, the rest of the top five was filled out by holdovers. Lionsgate’s “A Simple Favor” and Warner Bros.’ “The Nun” are vying for the number 2 spot, with estimates currently giving “Favor” the edge with $10.4 million compared to $10.2 million for “The Nun.” “A Simple Favor” only dropped 35 percent from its $16 million opening, for a $32.5 million 10-day total, while “The Nun” will hit $100 million domestic after three weekends.

Fox’s “The Predator” is taking a steep 65 percent fall to $8.6 million and a fourth place finish, posting a 10-day total of just $40 million against an $88 million budget. WB’s “Crazy Rich Asians” completes the top five with $6.4 million, pushing its domestic total to $159.3 million.