‘Fantastic Beasts’ spellbinds the weekend box office
Casting a spell over the box office, Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” took the top spot — besting fellow new releases “Bleed for This” from Open Road and “The Edge of Seventeen” from STX Entertainment.
“Fantastic Beasts” pulled in an estimated $75 million in ticket sales in the U.S. and Canada, failing analyst expectations of at least $80 million. The film, however, did meet the studio’s projections of $70 million to $75 million. But the true money came in internationally, where the picture grossed an impressive $143.3 million, beating analyst projections of $125 million.
“Magical,” said Jeff Goldstein, the studio’s distribution chief, about the box office results. “When you look at the enormous success of ‘Harry Potter’ and then as the wizarding world moves to its new chapter with ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ this is exactly what we were hoping for.”
The picture, a prequel to the hit “Harry Potter” franchise, follows Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) who joins a secretive group of wizards and witches in 1920s New York. David Yates, who directed four “Harry Potter” movies, made the new picture from a screenplay written by the Potter creator herself, J.K. Rowling. “Fantastic Beasts,” inspired by a Rowling book of the same name, also stars Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo and Johnny Depp.
It’s an impressive start for a film that inhabits the same “Potter” universe that grossed more than $7.7 billion worldwide throughout its eight-film run. (Not to mention the countless dollars garnered from wizard merchandising and themed amusement parks.) Still, the spinoff did not top any of the openings for “Harry Potter” movies, coming closest to the 2007 debut of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” at $77.1 million.
But the new film has already grossed far more than the $180 million it took to make. And the film has yet to open in the major markets of China and Japan; it opens there on Friday.
Audiences (55% female; 55% younger than 35) gave the film, the first of a reported five, an A CinemaScore. The flick has a 76% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
“Fantastic Beasts” pulled in more than $8 million from IMAX screens, and nine of the Top 10 grossing locations were IMAX. This is the third-highest grossing IMAX opening of the “Harry Potter” franchise, domestically, behind both parts of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”
As for the what the future of the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise might look like, Goldstein said, “the sky is the limit.”
Populating the rest of the weekend’s top five are holdovers.
Falling to second in its third week, Marvel Studio’s “Doctor Strange” pulled in another $17.7 million in the U.S. for a domestic gross to date of $181.5 million. The Benedict Cumberbatch-led picture also continues to do well on the international front, with $390 million. “Doctor Strange’s” worldwide gross to date of $571.5 million has surpassed the lifetime grosses of “The Incredible Hulk” ($263 million), “Captain America: The First Avenger” ($371 million) and “Thor” ($449 million).
Fox’s “Trolls” took third in its third week with $17.5 million. The animated film has grossed $116.2 million to date.
“Arrival,” starring Amy Adams, came in fourth in its second week with $11.8 million, for a cumulative domestic total estimated at $43.4 million.
And Universal’s “Almost Christmas” holds the fifth spot with $7 million in tickets in its second week. The film, written and directed by David E. Talbert, has pulled in a total of $25.4 million to date.
As for the other two new wide releases of the week, “The Edge of Seventeen” fared the best with $4.8 million, failing analyst expectations of at least $10 million.
The coming-of-age comedy-drama about a high school girl whose life gets awkward when her best friend starts dating her older brother was written and directed by Kelly Fremon Craig. It stars Hailee Steinfeld, Haley Lu Richardson and Kyra Sedgwick. Produced by Oscar-winner James L. Brooks, it cost $9 million to make.
Critics and audiences have responded well to the picture. “Seventeen” has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and moviegoers (70% female; 75% between 17 and 34 years old) gave it an A-minus CinemaScore.
“Bleed for This,” Open Road’s boxing drama starring Miles Teller, also didn’t do well, flopping to the tune of $2.4 million. This is well below analyst projections of $5 million.
Those who saw the Ben Younger-directed picture, though, enjoyed it. Audiences gave it an A-minus CinemaScore; the R-rated picture has a respectable 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
But despite the poor performances of both “Seventeen” and “Bleed for This,” the biggest loser of the week by far is “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk,” from Sony, which expanded wide this weekend. The Ang Lee-directed film only pulled in $930,000 over the weekend, far below analysts’ low expectations of $3 million. The picture’s gross to date, after opening in limited release the weekend before, is $1.1 million, making it one of the biggest disappointments of the year, considering its $40-million price tag (after tax breaks).
Also expanding this week, into 650 locations, was A24’s “Moonlight.” The Barry Jenkins-directed tale — already an awards season favorite and indie darling — garnered $1.6 million for a gross to date of $6.7 million.
On the limited-release front, Focus Features’ “Nocturnal Animals” opened to $494,000 from 37 screens for a per-screen average of $13,351. Written and directed by Tom Ford, the picture stars Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal.
Also opening, in just four theaters, was Roadside Attractions’ “Manchester by the Sea,” the awards season contender directed by Kenneth Lonergan. Pulling $241,230 (a $60,308 per-screen average), the R-rated drama stars Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams.
As the box office heads into Thanksgiving week, holdovers will battle Disney’s “Moana,” Fox’s “Rules Don’t Apply” and Paramount’s “Allied” for the holiday crowd.
Get your life! Follow me on Twitter: @TrevellAnderson.
9:45 a.m.: This article was updated with studio comment and limited-release figures.
This article was originally published at 9:25 a.m.
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