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September 23, 2018 at 01:07 PM EDT

Eli Roth’s foray into kid-friendly thrills and chills appears to be paying off.

The horror maestro’s big-screen adaptation of The House With a Clock in Its Walls is on track to earn an estimated $26.9 million in ticket sales at 3,592 theaters in the U.S. and Canada from Friday through Sunday, slightly exceeding expectations and easily topping the box office. Meanwhile, three other new releases — Fahrenheit 11/9, Life Itself, and Assassination Nation — are struggling to draw audiences.

Produced by Amblin Entertainment and released by Universal Pictures, The House With a Clock in Its Walls cost about $42 million to make and was projected to debut in the $18 million to $25 million range. It will add about $3.1 million in overseas ticket sales this frame. For Roth, the film marks his biggest opening as a director, surpassing 2006’s Hostel, which bowed with $19.6 million.

Quantrell Colbert/Universal Pictures

Based on John Bellairs’ 1973 children’s book, House stars Owen Vaccaro as a boy who goes to live with his eccentric uncle (played by Jack Black) after the death of his parents and is plunged into a world of magic. The cast also includes Cate Blanchett, Kyle MacLachlan, and Renée Elise Goldsberry.

Critics’ reviews were generally favorable, and moviegoers gave it a B+ CinemaScore.

Holdovers make up the rest of this weekend’s top five. Lionsgate’s thriller A Simple Favor will earn about $10.4 million in its second weekend, edging out Warner Bros’. horror movie The Nun, with about $10.3 million in its third frame. After taking the No. 1 spot last weekend, Fox’s action reboot The Predator will fall off 65 percent to about $8.7 million, good for fourth place, and Warner Bros’. rom-com Crazy Rich Asians will earn about $6.5 million in its sixth week.

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Fahrenheit 11/9, the latest documentary from Michael Moore, will debut in eighth place with an estimated $3.1 million, from 1,719 theaters. That’s a long way from the $23.9 million managed by Moore’s 2004 film Fahrenheit 9/11, which ultimately became the highest-grossing documentary ever with $119.2 million. On the bright side, 11/9 has received solid reviews and an A CinemaScore.

Critics have been less impressed by Life Itself, the multigenerational tearjerker from This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman, which currently has a 13-percent “fresh” rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences gave it a B-plus CinemaScore. It will earn about $2.1 million at 2,609 theaters, landing in 11th place.

The weekend’s other new wide release, Neon’s edgy thriller Assassination Nation, will gross about $1 million at 1,403 locations, putting it in the No. 15 spot.

According to ComScore, overall box office is up 8.5 percent year-to-date. Check out the Sept. 21-23 figures below.

1. The House With a Clock in Its Walls — $26.9 million
2. A Simple Favor — $10.4 million
3. The Nun — $10.3 million
4. The Predator — $8.7 million
5. Crazy Rich Asians — $6.5 million
6. White Boy Rick — $5 million
7. Peppermint — $3.7 million
8. Fahrenheit 11/9 — $3.1 million
9. The Meg — $2.4 million
10. Searching — $2.2 million

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