‘Fahrenheit 11/9’ and ‘Life Itself’ Flop Loudly, While Eli Roth Dominates With ‘The House With a Clock in Its Walls’

IndieWire | 9/23/2018 | Staff
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Success can come from strange places. Eli Roth, whose name became synonymous with torture porn, will likely see family film “The House With a Clock in the Walls” become his biggest hit. Produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin, “House” comes after nearly two months after the last major family release. (That was “Christopher Robin,” which should could cross $100 million with a strong quadrupling of its opening weekend). However, its 47 percent Saturday increase shows initial strong positive reaction as well as successful marketing.

The story combines sorcery, magic, a haunted house, and comedy as an orphan boy is sent to live with his uncle, played by Jack Black. With Cate Blanchett along to give it even more heft, it clicked during a period when original projects have taken over after the siege of summer sequels. Its total — for a film with half the budget — is better than last weekend’s “The Predator.” A sign that fresh material is more appealing than franchise titles?

Case - Point - Weekend - Percent - Openers

Case in point: The weekend was down 29 percent from the same one in 2017. That saw two openers at over $20 million, with “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” at nearly $40 million and “The Lego Ninjago Movie” just over $20 million. Those, plus a nearly $30 million third weekend for “It,” couldn’t be matched by this year’s menu, despite some very good holdover titles.

“Fahrenheit 11/9”

Weekend - Openings - Titles - Film - Festivals

This marked the second weekend of wide openings of titles that premiered at recent film festivals — with results ranging from disappointing to disastrous. These include last weekend’s “The Predator” and “White Boy Rick” and new releases “Fahrenheit 11/9,” “Life Itself,” and “Assassination Nation.”

Of the three, only Michael Moore’s “11/9” even made the top 10 (at #8). Unlike most documentaries, this one comes with a proven brand. Moore has compiled more box office than...
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