‘The House with a Clock in its Walls‘ had the magic at the weekend box office, drawing families to the tune of $26.9 million. With a budget of $40 million, that’s rock solid and this should have no problem going into the black as Halloween approaches. Audiences reacted favorably, giving it a B+ CinemaScore, which is lower than Black’s previous family Halloween film, ‘Goosebumps’, which received an A, but on par with ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’, which opened a bit higher, with $28.5M, but ‘The House with a Clock…’ cost about half as much to make than that Tim Burton movie. This marks director Eli Roth’s best opening, easily topping ‘Hostel”s $19.55M. It is also his best-reviewed film with 68% on Rotten Tomatoes.
No offense to Cate Blanchett, but the obvious draw here was Black, who has carved out a niche for solid family entertainment. In addition to ‘Goosebumps’, there was also the juggernaut that was ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’. Black and Blanchett (who is not on social media) took part in National Read a Book Day, reading from the original kid’s novel by John Bellairs. According to social media monitor Relish Mix, fans are sounding off “with memories of the books from childhood, and they’re excited to see the movie adaptation. Also, Jack Black certainly has his fans, and they’re happy to see the comedian in this role. And, like other family/live action films, House definitely has that ‘moment’ that has people talking, in this case, the slimy, gross pumpkins.”
In addition to nostalgia for the book, director Roth intentionally invoked Amblin/Universal kid-friendly thrillers of the ’80s, which is also scoring with parents, who see this as a throwback to the likes of ‘E.T.’, ‘Gremlins’, ‘Goonies’ and ‘Back to the Future’.
While it made less money, week-over-week, last week’s #3 movie, ‘A Simple Favor’ rose to #2, earning $10.5M. This noir comedy was directed by Paul Feig and stars Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick. ‘The Nun’ slipped from #2 to #3, with $10.1M which puts it at the $100M mark overall. It will soon become the second best movie in ‘The Conjuring’ franchise behind the original. The lackluster ‘The Predator’ earned $8.7M as it fades, down to #4. Finally, ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ is still holding on to the Top Five, with an additional $6.4M.
- The House with a Clock in its Walls (Amblin/Universal) – $26.9M
- A Simple Favor (Lionsgate) – $10.5M
- The Nun (New Line/Warner Brothers) – $10.1M
- The Predator (20th Century Fox) – $8.7M
- Crazy Rich Asians (Warner Brothers) – $6.4M
While ‘The House with a Clock…” had a solid opening, this week’s other new releases fizzled. Michael Moore’s newest documentary, ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ is said to have opened too wide– 1,719 screens, versus the 868 opening for ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’. It only mustered $2.8M. With a smaller opening, it could have built momentum/word-of-mouth as it rolled out over time. Tearjerker ‘Life Itself’ only earned $2.1M. Amazon paid $10M to acquire it. Ouch. But this being an Amazon project, it could find new life when it is offered on Prime. Though critics hated it, this film from ‘This Is Us” Dan Fogelman will likely play better with the same audiences that made that series a hit. NEON/AGBO’s horror flick ‘Assassination Nation’ was intended to be a Blumhouse-like low-budget play for teenagers (particularly females), but it isn’t playing to that audience. The tiny crowd that it managed to draw were mostly men over 25. ‘The Nun’ and, to a lesser degree, ‘The Predator’ siphoned off the target audience.
Things are looking up for next week. There hasn’t been a big comedy in a while, so Kevin Hart and Tiffany Haddish’s ‘Night School’ could score. There’s also Warner Bros.’s ‘Small Foot’ which is being heavily hyped. It may draw families with kids too young for ‘The House with a Clock…’ but with that movie still performing so well, that may take some of ‘Small Foot”s intended audience. And ‘Hell Fest’ should appeal to fans of straight-up horror, now that ‘The Nun’ has been out for a while.