I need to define a block--custom.tpl.php file in a custom module and have that override the theme block.tpl.php.

Here is where I have ended up and it's not working.

Tell Drupal to look in my module:

function MODULE_theme_registry_alter(&$theme_registry) {
  $theme_registry['block']['theme paths'][] = drupal_get_path('module', 'MODULE');
  $theme_registry['block']['theme paths'][] = drupal_get_path('module', 'MODULE') . '/theme';

In hook_preprocess_HOOK() suggest a new theme file:

function MODULE_preprocess_block(&$variables) {
  $block = $variables['block'];

  if ($block->CONDITION) {
    $variables['theme_hook_suggestions'][] = 'block__MODULE';

Now, I've created the file in the module's theme/ folder and called it block--MODULE.tpl.php.

I've turned on theme debugging in the settings file by un-commenting out $conf['theme_debug'] = TRUE;

Caches have been cleared multiple times. When I load the page I see in the debug comments:

<!-- THEME DEBUG -->
<!-- CALL: theme('block') -->
   * block--MODULE.tpl.php
   * block--block--6.tpl.php
   * block--block.tpl.php
   * block--content.tpl.php
   x block.tpl.php
<!-- BEGIN OUTPUT from 'sites/all/themes/THEME/templates/block.tpl.php' -->

And as you can see from the debug it is using the theme template file.

How do I get Drupal to select the proper theme file?

  • There are two different ways to do it suggested here => drupal.org/node/715160, the first one applies to your case. Jun 2, 2016 at 18:52
  • These all talk about nodes and as you can tell from my example, I am using this method (sort of). I need a block specific method. Jun 2, 2016 at 18:53
  • I also don't want to override the block theme registry for all blocks, only those that meet a specific condition. Jun 2, 2016 at 18:56
  • Right you are :-) Let me have a deeper look Jun 2, 2016 at 18:59

1 Answer 1


The following worked for me:

 * Implements hook_theme().
function rals_theme($existing, $type, $theme, $path) {
  $theme = array();
  $theme['block__custom'] = array(
    'render element' => 'content',
    'template' => 'block--custom',
    'path' => drupal_get_path('module', 'rals'),
  return $theme;

 * Implements hook_preprocess_HOOK().
function rals_preprocess_block(&$variables) {
  $block = $variables['block'];
  if ($block->bid == 3) {
    $variables['theme_hook_suggestions'][] = 'block__custom';

and succesfully uses my module-folder-located template file for rendering the block with bid == 3.

Good luck in any case!


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