‘House With a Clock’ Casts a Spell on ‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ and ‘Life Itself,’ Tops the Box Office in Its Debut

September 23, 2018, 6:49 PM UTC

“The House With a Clock in Its Walls,” a new fantasy film from Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures, topped the box office in one of the quietest weekends of the year, outdrawing movie debuts from Michael Moore and Amazon.com Inc.

Co-produced with Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” collected $26.9 million from cinemas in the U.S. and Canada, ComScore Inc. estimated in an email Sunday. Moore returned to theaters with the political documentary “Fahrenheit 11/9” landing in eighth place, while Amazon Studios’ widest release yet, the drama “Life Itself,” placed outside the Top 10.

Based on the novel by John Bellairs and Edward Gorey, “The House With a Clock in Its Walls” follows a young orphan who moves in with his uncle, played by Jack Black. He soon discovers he’s living with a warlock and that they must track down a magical clock that counts down to doomsday. The film cost $42 million to make and exceeded the $22 million debut-weekend estimate of Box Office Pro, a good start for a movie with a modest production budget.

The weekend itself was projected to be among the slowest of the year, with Box Office Mojo predicting the top films would struggle to produce $80 million in North America. Just 63 percent of critics recommended “The House With a Clock In Its Walls,” according to review aggregator RottenTomatoes.com.

Moore had a better time with critics, with his feature about the Trump era earning 81 percent positive reviews, but difficulty at the ticket booth. It brought in $3.1 million, about half of the $6 million that Box Office Mojo predicted. Moore’s most commercially successful film, the 2004 release “Fahrenheit 9/11,” brought in $222.4 million globally and is the top domestic documentary of all time.

Amazon’s “Life Itself” arrived with a thud, with just 14 percent of reviewers recommending the movie and sales of $2.1 million, less than the $5.2 million Box Office Mojo forecast. From the writer and director of the popular NBC TV show “This Is Us,” the film features Oscar Isaac and Olivia Wilde as a young New York couple in a multigenerational saga that follows their romance from college to the birth of their first child.

“The Predator,” last weekend’s box office leader, fell to fourth place with sales of $8.7 million for theaters and its distributor, 21st Century Fox Inc.