Four movies opened in at least 1,400 theaters this weekend, but readers would hardly know it from the weekend box office report. Only one of those new releases, The House with a Clock In Its Walls, managed to crack the top seven in this week’s top ten, while the other three completely fizzled out, allowing holdovers from last week to maintain fairly healthy positions.
As for The House with a Clock In Its Walls, it easily secured the number one spot at the box office this weekend, generating a tidy $26.9 million on a modest $40 million budget. It represents Eli Roth’s first foray into family fare — although The House has a horror tinge — and it was a successful one, capitalizing on a familiar book series, the talents of Cate Blanchett, and the star power of … Jack Black? Indeed, Jack Black has enjoyed something of a second career as a popular face (and voice) in family films like the Jumanji reboot, the Kung Fu Panda franchise, The Muppets and Goosebumps. Among the current generation of kids, Black is probably a far more familiar face than the likes of other comedians who turned to family films and eventually crapped out, like Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey, and Eddie Murphy. The difference, of course, is that Jack Black’s family films respect their audiences and do not talk down to them, which has made him a very kid-friendly star.
The House with a Clock In Its Walls got some help, too, from critics who gave it modestly positive reviews (67 percent on Rotten Tomatoes), while audiences genuinely seemed to like it, as well (a B+ on Cinemascore). Who knows? Its success could also lead Eli Roth into the family-film genre, as well. After all, The House fetched the biggest opening of his career, which has mostly been sliding since the original Hostel film back in 2006.