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Box Office: ‘House With a Clock in Its Walls’ Ticking to $20 Million-Plus as ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ Falters

Jack Black’s “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” is ticking to a U.S. opening of $20 million-plus, early estimates showed on Friday.

Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment’s fantasy film is expected to debut at the higher end of estimates, which were projected to be between $18 million and $20 million at 3,500 North American locations. According to some estimates, the film could earn as much as $25 million in its debut.

The adaptation of John Bellairs’ children’s book is set to earn about $7 million on Friday, including the $840,000 it reeled in from Thursday night previews. The preview gross was comparable to another one of Black’s book-to-movie adaptations, “Goosebumps,” which earned $600,000 in late-night shows in October 2015 on its way to a $23.6 million launch.

“House With a Clock in Its Walls” follows 10-year-old Lewis (Owen Vaccaro), who goes to live with his goofy uncle (played by Black) in an old house with a mysterious ticking heart. Cate Blanchett plays their neighbor, Mrs. Zimmerman, who practices magic. The film took “Hostel” director Eli Roth to unfamiliar territory: the PG realm.

The family film is up against three R-rated newcomers — “Fahrenheit 11/9,” “Life Itself,” and “Assassination Nation” — and three R-rated holdovers expected to top the new entries — “A Simple Favor,” “The Nun,” and “The Predator.” The three former films are heading for single-digit debuts.

Michael Moore’s latest documentary, “Fahrenheit 11/9,” should lead the trio of wide releases, but won’t crack the top five. The film is headed for almost $4 million on 1,700 screens — below initial estimates in the $5 million to $8 million range, and a far cry from “Fahrenheit 9/11’s” debut.

Moore’s “Fahrenheit 11/9” revolves around the 2016 presidential election and Donald Trump’s presidency. The title — a callback to Moore’s 2004 political documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11” — references the day after the election. “Fahrenheit 9/11,” which centered on the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, is the highest-grossing doc of all time, launching to $23 million on its way to $222 million worldwide.

“This Is Us” creator Dan Fogelman is back on the big screen (at 2,600 locations) with “Life Itself.” The ensemble drama — starring Oscar Isaac, Olivia Wilde, Mandy Patinkin, Olivia Cooke, and Annette Bening — looks to be neck and neck with “Fahrenheit 11/9” in the $3 million to $5 million range, according to Friday projections. The pic tracks multiple generations of interconnected families brought together by a single event.

Neon’s “Assassination Nation,” written and directed by Sam Levinson, is eyeing a debut around $1.5 million on 1,400 screens. It stars Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Anika Noni Rose, Colman Domingo, Maude Apatow, Joel McHale, and Bella Thorne. The film’s high school heroines take revenge against an anonymous hacker who leaks everyone’s secrets online, leaving a bloody trail behind.

Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick’s Lionsgate thriller “A Simple Favor” is expected to be runner-up this weekend, with about $10 million in its sophomore frame. Warner Bros.’ “The Nun” and Fox’s “The Predator” are in a tight race for third, with both headed north of $8 million. WB’s “Crazy Rich Asians,” now in its sixth week, should round out the top five, bringing its total to almost $160 million. 

Meanwhile, Bleecker Street’s “Colette,” starring Keira Knightley; Annapurna’s “The Sisters Brothers,” with John C. Reilly and Joaquin Phoenix; Magnolia’s Gilda Radner doc “Love, Gilda”; and IFC’s “Tea With the Dames” are among the films at this weekend’s packed specialty box office.

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