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The magical adventure The House With a Clock in Its Walls is expected to open with $18 million to $25 million (Dh91.81 million) in box office sales in the US and Canada this weekend.

Hey kids, get ready for the next No. 1 movie in America — brought to you by the guy who made Hostel.

That’s right, filmmaker Eli Roth, who rose to fame as one of top purveyors of ultra-violent horror in the mid-2000s, has emerged from his torture chamber to direct Amblin Entertainment’s spooky adventure The House With a Clock in Its Walls.

Roth’s foray into children’s entertainment is a surprising career switch, even in an industry in which Wes Craven made Music of the Heart.

But if it works, the film will represent a return to form of sorts for Steven Spielberg’s production company Amblin Entertainment, for which live-action youth adventures (E.T.: The Extraterrestrial, The Goonies) were once its stock in trade.

The new film, based on a 1973 book about a young boy who goes to live with his mysterious uncle in a mansion with supernatural secrets, is expected to open with $18 million to $25 million in the US and Canada on Friday through Sunday, according to people who have reviewed pre-release audience surveys. Universal Pictures, which is distributing the picture, has projected an opening of roughly $15 million. The movie, which has a PG rating, cost more than $40 million to make, according to people close to the production.

Though not a blockbuster by any means, it will almost certainly unseat last weekend’s biggest movie The Predator, which debuted with an underwhelming $24 million in receipts for 20th Century Fox. House is tracking best with younger females, according to analysts.

Live-action kids fantasy films, such as Amblin’s The BFG, have had mixed results at the box office, and most youngsters probably aren’t familiar with the John Bellairs novel on which The House With a Clock in Its Walls is based. But star Jack Black (who plays the warlock uncle) made a successful stab at kiddie horror in Sony’s Goosebumps in 2015, which collected $80 million in the US and Canada.

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The House With a Clock on Its Walls releases in the UAE on September 27.