‘Fantastic Beasts’ Gobbles Up Teen Girl, Vinny Paz & ‘Billy Lynn’…But Is ‘Potter’ Spinoff Big Enough For A New Franchise?

Anthony D'Alessandro
Deadline

5th Writethru, Sunday AM: Updated analysis Warner Bros. is calling the weekend for its Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at $75M with  international pushing the global opening for the movie at $218.3M. Whenever there’s a big film like this in the U.S./Canada market, the tide can rise all boats or sink them, and this weekend was the latter with a trio of adult demo wide entries biting the dust, including STX Entertainment’s The Edge of Seventeen ($4.8M), Open Road’s Bleed For This ($2.36M) and Sony’s wide expansion of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk ($930K) – the latter another clever tech casualty for TriStar in the wake of last fall’s Twin Towers love letter The Walk ($10.1M domestic).

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

For actors Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell and even Jon Voight, Fantastic Beasts sets a domestic record opening for their careers. For director David Yates, it’s his fifth highest, his top two-century debuts belonging to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 ($169.1M) and Part 1 ($125M).

But putting this weekend in a vacuum aside, on Friday some executives around town were questioning whether Fantastic Beasts first weekend stateside is high enough to kick off a new five-title-franchise, which Beasts scribe and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling boldly announced at a global drumroll event last month. Not to mention, we’ve seen Warner Bros. open spinoff titles higher, i.e. DC’s deeper universe Suicide Squad. That had a huge want-to-see with an opening weekend $133.6M propped by Batman and Joker who appeared in Suicide ads (unlike Harry Potter characters sidelined out of Beasts materials) further fueled by the sexy punk appeal of Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn.

“They can’t be happy about this internally,” opined a rival distribution chief about Warner Bros. brass on Friday, suggesting that $90M+ would be the proper start for a movie that carries a reported estimated $180M production cost (some even says it’s $200M) and an industry-estimated global P&A of $150M. At this point in time, Fantastic Beasts’  FSS is less than Marvel’s deeper universe Doctor Strange ($85M) as well as the first 2001 Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone ($90.3M). Granted that movie was built off a massive-bestselling book fandom, whereas Fantastic Beasts is operating off the gas of the Potter movies and Rowling’s brand name.

“It’s solid,” rebutted another non-Warner Bros. distribution chief, “but we can’t make any hasty generalizations yet and pronounce it dead. We need to give this one three weeks and see how international fares.” Another exhibitor phoned us Saturday and declared, “We need more movies like Fantastic Beasts, it’s hardly a bomb!”

However, despite Fantastic Beasts opening slightly lower on a three-day basis than any other Harry Potter film (the fifth chapter Order of the Phoenix debuted to $77.1M over FSS and $139.7M over five days, the previous low for a Rowling movie title), the industry feels the $200M global opening for Beasts is ample enough to kick off this potential franchise, especially if it reaches $800M worldwide. “That’s around where most franchises have been winding up lately, right?” asserted the same pic pipeline czar on Friday observing such pics as Deadpool ($782.6M), Suicide Squad ($745.6M) and Batman v. Superman ($873.3M).

Indeed Warner Bros. is stoked by the results, with domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein declaring on Sunday morning, “J.K. Rowling has brilliantly brought us back to the magical world of wizards and has excited audiences who are experiencing the film as they head into the big Thanksgiving holiday.  The marketing was extraordinary and really inspired audiences everywhere.”

And heading into Thanksgiving, Beasts is blessed with some fantastic word of mouth. At a screening at the Pacific Winnetka in Chatsworth, CA yesterday, the audience literally cheered at the end. Warner Bros. is in a better place than their latest two D.C. efforts Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad (despite the fact that they opened higher than Beasts) in that the Rowling pic hasn’t alienated fans and critics with a 76% certified fresh score, a solid A CinemaScore tonight (the 6th ‘A’ for a Potter universe title), a 90% positive ComScore PostTrak audience response, along with a very strong 74% definite recommend. RelishMix reports that heading into the weekend, Beasts had “one of the strongest social medias of the year” with a universe of 263.3M with videos passed around at a viral rate of 15:1. And indeed that good word of mouth will further fly Fantastic Beasts into Thanksgiving. The -12% between Beasts Friday and Saturday indicates some front-loading, but the tapering off over the first two days wasn’t as steep as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (-38%) and Part 2 (-53%).

Star Wars TFA Carrie Fisher Harrison Ford
Star Wars TFA Carrie Fisher Harrison Ford

But here lies the rub: If Beasts is such a great movie, boosted by a brand name like Rowling’s, why didn’t it open higher? The whole spinoff series reasoning aside?

There’s an argument to be made that potential audiences didn’t connect Fantastic Beasts with its parent brand Harry Potter. Typically, advance ticket sales gauge the level of want-to-see, and per PostTrak, 50% of Beasts’ business was in walk-ups with 35% buying their tickets a week or more ahead. Rowling was very specific that she wanted Beasts to be a fresh, new story completely apart from Potter. Let’s go back for a moment to this summer, three weeks prior to the opening of Ghostbusters. If you asked trackers their thoughts on how that Sony reboot was shaping up, their keen insight revealed that what the marketing lacked was a clear reference in all its materials to the original Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd characters. This was essential in order to re-energize the film’s older generation fanbase and get them out. Uni and Disney respectively knew this quite well in reigniting Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens and their promos hit all the touchstones of the original property.

It was never cut and dry in the Beasts marketing that it was related to Potter  (really, not, until that WB kickoff event a month ago) with no image or mentioning of Harry Potter. And the movie itself merely glosses over references to Hogwarts and Dumbledore. We might be looking at a higher opening today for Beasts if at an earlier point in its campaign we saw images of a younger Potter father, Dumbledore, or any of the Potter universe characters.  Instead the marketing for Beasts was billed as  “Explore a new era of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World”. Another wrench is the fact that the movie wasn’t promoted like a family movie (showing the kids in the film) but as an adult period one set in NYC 1926 and starring critically acclaimed award-winning actors like Redmayne, Farrell and Waterson that upscale audiences are familiar with. “That I feel is its biggest challenge with a broad audience,” says another rival studio department head about the period element.  Essentially, Potter fans have gotten older, evident in the 65% over 25 turnout per CinemaScore. Apparently, the Beasts creatives outside the studio have input on marketing, with the studio tried to emphasize more and more Beasts’ relation to the greater Potter world. Relish Mix also noticed prior to CinemaScore/PostTrak exit polls that despite the fact that Beasts has excellent buzz on social, “The only concern fans and moviegoers have is whether Beasts can possibly live up to their film memories of the original Potter fans from the 2000s.  Some say they think the effects have taken a step backwards, others are confused by how these storylines might intersect with characters and plot from Potter.”

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

In-house WB considers Fantastic Beasts to be original IP cracked from an original story by Rowling, even though its inspired by the fictitious textbook in the Potter mythology by monster expert New Scamander.

The New York Times’ Manohla Dargis says in her film review that “the slender volume, adorned with childish scrawls…could pass for a product catalog for potential merch, one that Ms. Rowling embellishes with comedic passages, glimmers of romance and parallel action scenes.” The leap of faith here was getting the Potter book and film fans to board “an extension to the wizarding world.”

Tentpole IP is always a gamble to open, and on that measuring stick let’s remind ourselves that Fantastic Beasts’ opening is right on the heels of  Avatar ($77M) and Warner Bros.’ I Am Legend ($77.2M) which were both hits. In addition, some in the comments have argued that franchises have sparked at the B.O. with lower starts, i.e. Rise of the Planet of the Apes ($54.8M opening, $176.8M domestic, $481.8M global…but that was much cheaper than Beasts at a $93M production cost).

phoneix
phoneix

There’s no question why Warner Bros. would invest so heavily in a spinoff to its $7.7B-grossing franchise, particularly one helmed by Yates, a trusted director who is responsible for steering the latter portion of the series to great heights. But we can’t deny the fact that the Burbank-based studio has a history of exchanging uber-high production costs for slim-to-zero profit margins. Look no farther than the classic expense sheet case published by Deadline in July 2010 showing that 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, despite opening to $77.1M stateside, and minting $292M domestic and $939.9M worldwide, actually lost money after all ancillaries to the tune of -$167M off a $373.5M production cost and $191.9M P&A. Deadline sources have even questioned how much profit Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad turned in the end.

Then again, maybe a bulk of the crowd – mostly female here at 55% per CinemaScore – is waiting to hear what Fantastic Beasts is all about (only 18% under 18 showed up tonight giving it an A+, while the under 25 bunch repped 35% of the crowd giving it an A), with the intent of taking in the movie after Thanksgiving dinner. K-12 Schools will commence their Turkey vacations on Monday at 33% and college at 15%,  swelling to 100% by Thanksgiving and Black Friday; the latter a very rich day at the box office. PostTrak showed that 50% of the crowd watch Beasts in 2D, while 20% watched in large format and 26% in Imax. One could see that stat in effect at a screening in Chatsworth, CA yesterday where at the Pacific Winnetka, the 4:15PM 2D was a near sell-out while the 4:45PM XD showing of Beasts only drew 30 people. Imax hubs drew $8M stateside, 3rd best debut for a Rowling title in the format after Deathly Hallows 1 and 2.  500 reporting PLF locations will gross an estimated $9M or 12% of the weekend gross for Fantastic Beasts. Cinemark XD will gross an estimated $1.75 million or 20% of the total PLF gross.

So is there any promise of Fantastic Beasts climbing higher when its sequel opens on Nov. 16, 2018? We all know how everything that’s not a superhero title just drops in their following installments. What’s interesting (and no spoilers here) is that Beasts end a note where Newt might be set sail for the U.K., and if Rowling takes the action back to Hogwarts — well then, now we’re talking higher numbers.

edgeofseventeen_jpg_crop_promo-xlarge2
edgeofseventeen_jpg_crop_promo-xlarge2

“Why the hell would they ever release a teenage movie with a 95% Rotten Tomatoes score against Fantastic Beasts?!!” Those are the screams of a rival distribution executive today on how STX’s R-rated, critically acclaimed teen comedy The Edge of Seventeen is imploding at the box office with a projected $4.8M. As I’ve often written, when you start this low in your first weekend, the A- CinemaScore is meaningless down the road. The James L. Brooks produced-movie stars Hailee Steinfeld in what’s akin to a teenage girl Albert Brooks Modern Romance. In short, it’s a sublime movie that’s a throwback to the John Hughes genre. But Seventeen‘s audience is getting stolen away by Beasts (despite the fact  that density wise Seventeen skewed more older women at 75% female, 52% 25 and up according to CinemaScore). Even though Seventeen cost a reported $9M before TV ads, no one is praising the pic’s ticket sales. Many believe that this film should have opened last weekend, or stayed on its Sept. 30 date.

So why did Seventeen open this weekend?

Despite Fantastic Beasts’ presence in the market, the idea of going up against it stemmed from being a low-risk form of counterprogramming. There weren’t any comedies in the marketplace, and while STX knew Seventeen wasn’t going to pull in a majority of Fantastic Beasts’ horde of women (PostTrak shows over-18 females turning out to Beasts at 44%) they believed they could shave off some, as well as upscale audiences, Brooks fans and fantasy naysayers and potentially hit a $10M opening. Let’s not ignore the fact that awards nom ballots for SAGs and Globes are being mailed out next week. Unfortunately, as we saw with Steve Jobs last year, Seventeen‘s awards chances may now be foiled, with Thanksgiving movies tending to 2-3x multiples at the B.O., not the 8x ones that Christmas brings. In an era where the industry wants to give smart movies a chance, it’s important to nurture and protect them, not bury them in the shadow of tentpoles. This isn’t a Bad Moms scenario where that comedy was catering to women whose first choice wasn’t Jason Bourne, posting a hearty $23.8M and legging out to $113.3M. There’s too much competition coming down the pike, with arthouse titles looking to expand, thus putting Seventeen‘s hold factor in jeopardy. With Arrival being the more opulent choice for females last weekend, it didn’t make sense to date Seventeen then. On the upside, Seventeen will likely not bleed as much red as Sony/TriStar’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk which cost before P&A a reported $40M…

bleed-for-this
bleed-for-this

Open Road’s Bleed for This is another fall festival attendee on a journey to hook kudos that’s also KO’ed at the B.O. Like Seventeen, it’s A- CinemaScore isn’t expected to spark a double-digit multiple. Turnout here is older males at 64%, 69% over 25. The difference here is that critics were divided whether this was a great boxing film or the same old-same old. The middling reviews alone dashed all hopes for a platform release to build word of mouth on this title. Given that Open Road shelled out $4M for the pic, it’s likely that they needed to make their money back fast, hence the wide release. “It would help if they didn’t make a movie about a mediocre boxer,” an executive harshly criticized. With a projected opening of $2.36M at 1,549 venues, Bleed for This is another boxing film that’s down for the count in the wake of Weinstein Co.’s Roberto Duran boxing title Fists of Stone ($1.75M opening, final domestic of $4.7m).

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Movie
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Movie

With innovation brings the risk of failure. That’s one way of looking at Ang Lee’s pristine, 120 fps Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, but it’s not the lack of 4K 3D projectors (apparently there were only two that could project the movie per Lee’s standards) that failed this movie, rather the story itself. It’s not a triumphant, heartwarming, man-against-the odds epic based on a bestselling book a la Lee’s Life of Pi, rather a melancholy post-war drama about an Iraq soldier suffering from PTSD or as the New York Post’s film critic Kyle Smith raged it’s “dramatically inert, satirically inert and thematically insufferable.” Not to mention, Billy Lynn arrives for duty in the wake of Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge which is on its way to a 17-day total of $42.5M. Yes, Hacksaw doesn’t swallow easy with its violent war scenes, but the spoils of Desmond Doss’ war is something heroic, grand and pretty amazing considering he never gripped a gun. Now imagine Hacksaw in 120 fps 4K 3D…

nocturnal-animals-manchester-by-the-sea-2-shot
nocturnal-animals-manchester-by-the-sea-2-shot

On the specialty side, A24’s resilient Moonlight is at No. 11 with $1.58M at 650 sites, a huge 25% surge in its fifth weekend with a cume of $6.7M. In the face of Fantastic Beasts, other arthouse labels are playing their awards contenders carefully on screen, like chess pieces, making small moves at a time. Their intention: Stoke the upscale word of mouth just enough to sail these titles through the holiday season without going too wide and falling on their faces. Focus Features’ Tom Ford thriller Nocturnal Animals launches with close to $13,3K per screen or $494k at 37 houses. The movie, which won Ford the Silver Lion at Venice has a 72% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. Roadside Attractions’ release of Amazon’s Manchester by the Sea stole Billy Lynn‘s third place slot on this year’s list of top opening averages away with $60K a house or $241K at four venues is the fourth best opening theater average of 2016 after Moonlight ($100K), Don’t Think Twice ($92,8K) and Cafe Society ($71,8K). The Kenneth Lonergan drama which stars Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams follows an uncle who cares for his nephew after the boy’s father dies. It currently boasts a 99% certified fresh Rotten Tomatoes score. Amazon acquired Manchester by the Sea for $10M out of Sundance last January.

Top 10 Films per Sunday morning studio-reported estimates for the weekend of Nov. 18-20:

1). Fantastic Beasts…  (WB), 4,144 theaters / $29.7M Fri. (includes $8.75M)/$26.3M Sat./$19M Sun./ 3-day cume: $75M /Wk 1

2.) Doctor Strange  (DIS), 3,694 theaters (-188) / $4.8M Fri. /$7.9M Sat/$4.9M Sun/ 3-day cume: $17.67M(-59%) /Total cume: $181.5M/Wk 3

3.) Trolls  (DWA/20th Century Fox), 3,945 theaters (-121) / $3.9M Fri.  /$8.2M Sat/$5.4M Sun/ 3-day cume: $17.5M (-50%) /Total Cume: $116.2M/Wk 3

4). Arrival  (PAR), 2,335 theaters (+18) / $3.4M Fri. /$5.2M Sat/$ 3-day cume: $11.8M (-51%)/Total:$43.37M/ Wk 2

5). Almost Christmas  (UNI), 2,379 theaters (+3) / $2M Fri.  /$3.4M Sat/$1.7M Sun/ 3-day cume: $7M (-54%)/Total: $25.4M/ Wk 2

6). Hacksaw Ridge  (Lionsgate), 2,883 theaters (-88) / $1.9M Fri.  /$2.9M Sat/$2M Sun/$6.75M 3-day (-37%)/Total: $42.9M/ Wk 3

7.) The Edge of Seventeen (STX) 1,945 theaters/ $1.7M Fri./$1.9M Sat./$1.3M Sun/3-day: $4.8M/wk 1

8.) Bleed For This (OR) 1,549 theaters/ $895K Fri./$886K Sat/$576K Sun/3-day: $2.36M/wk 1

9.)The Accountant (WB), 1,423 theaters (-919) / $605K Fri. /$975K Sat./$535K Sun/3-day cume: $2.1M (-52%) / Total cume: $81.2M / Wk 6

10.) Shut In  (Euro), 2,006 theaters (-52)/ $500K  Fri. /$725K Sat/$375K Sun/ 3-day cume: $1.6M (-66%)/Total: $6m/ Wk 2

11.) Moonlight (A24) 650 theaters (+474) $441K Fri. /$635K Sat/$508K Sun/ 3-day cume: $1.58M (+25%) / Total: $6.7M / Wk 5

 

Notables:

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (SONY) 1,176 theaters (+1,174) / $350K Fri./$332K Sat/$248K Sun/3-day cume: $930K (+715%)/Total: $1.08M/ Wk 2

Nocturnal Animals  (FOC) 37 theaters/ $163K Fri./$15K PTA/3-day cume: $555k/ Wk 1

Manchester by the Sea (AMZ/RSA) 4 theaters/ $73K Fri./$60K PTA/3-day cume: $241k/ Wk 1

I Am Not Madame Bovary (WLGO) 39 theaters/ $66K Fri./$72K Sat/$50K Sun/$4,8K PTA/3-day cume: $188k/ Wk 1

********

Top 10 films per Saturday morning industry estimates for the weekend of Nov. 18-20:

1). Fantastic Beasts…  (WB), 4,144 theaters / $29.8M Fri. (includes $8.75M)/ 3-day cume: $76M /Wk 1

2.) Trolls  (DWA/20th Century Fox), 3,945 theaters (-121) / $3.9M Fri. (-68%) / 3-day cume: $16.9M (-52%) /Total Cume: $115.7M/Wk 3

3.) Doctor Strange  (DIS), 3,694 theaters (-188) / $4.8M Fri. (-68%)/ 3-day cume: $16.7M(-61%) /Total cume: $180.6M/Wk 3

4). Arrival  (PAR), 2,335 theaters (+18) / $3.4M Fri. (-63%) / 3-day cume: $11.2M (-53%)/Total:$42.8M/ Wk 2

5). Almost Christmas  (UNI), 2,379 theaters (+3) / $2M Fri. (-66%) / 3-day cume: $6.6M (-53%)/Total: $25M/ Wk 2

6). Hacksaw Ridge  (Lionsgate), 2,883 theaters (-88) / $1.9M Fri. (-50%) /$6.4M 3-day (-40%)/Total: $42.5M/ Wk 3

7.) The Edge of Seventeen (STX) 1,945 theaters/ $1.7M Fri./3-day: $4.8M/wk 1

8.) Bleed For This (OR) 1,549 theaters/ $882K Fri./3-day: $2.6M/wk 1

9.)The Accountant (WB), 1,423 theaters (-919) / $603K Fri. (-60%)/3-day cume: $2M (-55%) / Total cume: $81.1M / Wk 6

10.) Shut In  (Euro), 2,006 theaters (-52)/ $501K (-70%) Fri. / 3-day cume: $1.6M (-66%)/Total: $6m/ Wk 2

11.) Moonlight (A24) 650 theaters (+474) $437K Fri. (-12%)  3-day cume: $1.39M (+10%) / Total: $6.5M / Wk 5

 

Notables:

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (SONY) 1,176 theaters (+1,174) / $349K Fri. (+523M)/3-day cume: $1M (+900%)/Total: $1.1M/ Wk 2

Nocturnal Animals  (FOC) 37 theaters/ $163K Fri./$15K PTA/3-day cume: $555k/ Wk 1

Manchester by the Sea (AMZ/RSA) 4 theaters/ $73K Fri./$58K PTA/3-day cume: $232k/ Wk 1

I Am Not Madame Bovary (WLGO) 39 theaters/ $66K Fri./$5,1K PTA/3-day cume: $201k/ Wk 1

 

2ND UPDATE, FRIDAY MIDDAY: Warner Bros’ Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them earned top grades last night according to ComScore’s PostTrak, which polls throughout the weekend, So far the Harry Potter spinoff is earning a whopping total positive 90% score, with a very strong 74% of the audience responding that they’ll tell their friends about the movie. Per rival estimates (not Warner Bros), Fantastic Beasts is flying to a $30 million opening day including its $8.75M Thursday previews, looking at an opening in the mid-$70M range.

Forty-four percent of moviegoers so far on PostTrak say the David Yates-directed movie, his fifth in the J.K. Rowling wizardry universe, exceeded their expectations, while 52% said it met expectations. A majority of those who went to see Fantastic Beasts, at 56%, bought their tickets at the multiplex window instead of in advance, with 67% watching the film in 2D. Close to half of the audience came out because they’re Potter fans, while 20% bought tickets because they like Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell.

edge of seventeen
edge of seventeen

The presence of Fantastic Beasts isn’t exactly rising the tide for other pics out there, with frosh titles getting squashed. STX’s The Edge Of Seventeen is currently filing below its $8M-$10M projection with $5M-$7M. However, this is a great movie that needs to be discovered, and with Fantastic Beasts pulling in 53% female, 54% over 25 and 37% between 18-24, that doesn’t help this James L. Brooks comedy production.

bleed-for-this
bleed-for-this

Open Road didn’t even report a Thursday night preview number for its boxing movie Bleed For Thiswhich is not a good sign. The Ben Younger-directed biopic about world champ boxer Vinny Paz is punching low between $2.5M-$4M, under the $5M the distributor was hoping for. Open Road snapped up Bleed For This for $4M at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.

Sony/TriStar/Studio 8’s Ang Lee soldier PTSD movie Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk at 1,176 screens is forecasted to walk away with $2M-$3M. The adult-demo movie is off to a horrible start with critics at 42% Rotten. 

Disney/Marvel’s Doctor Strange is taking a beating, down 65% with around $15M in its third weekend for a running cume by Sunday of $178.9M in third place. DreamWorks Animation/20th Century Fox’s Trolls at $17M,  is down 51% for No. 2 hold and a running cume by Sunday of $115.7M. Paramount’s Arrival is down 56%, for a second weekend of $10.5M, and a running 10-day total of $42.1M.

PREVIOUS, 7:40 AM: The Thanksgiving moviegoing stretch began last night, and nobody has even sat down for dinner yet. Warner Bros’ Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them grossed $8.75 million from Thursday showings starting at 6 PM. All in after two days abroad in 47 territories, Fantastic Beasts is flying to $32.25M worldwide at this point in time.

We’re hearing that early matinees are strong near Doctor Strange levels, but it’s too early to call whether it Fantastic Beasts will climb to those opening weekend heights; its weekend could potential be more in the $75M range. Estimated production cost before P&A is $180M for Fantastic Beasts, but other sources with knowledge believe it could be much closer to $200M. Overseas might settle at $125M, however, Fantastic Beasts could jump higher than that.

Fantastic Beasts’ figure is just under the $8.8M that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug generated on its Thursday night from midnight shows before posting a $31.19M Friday and $73.6M three-day opening weekend in 2013. Fantastic Beasts’ Thursday night is also shy of the $9.4M that Doctor Strange posted on its Thursday night earlier this month before collecting a $32.6M opening day and $85M weekend.

harry potter deathly hallows
harry potter deathly hallows

As we’ve said all alongFantastic Beasts is a spinoff and it’s not based on a bestselling book series like Potter, so it’s apt to be lighter in weight gross-wise when compared to the junior wizard’s grosses. Instead, Warner Bros is banking on generations of Potter film fans showing up at the multiplex this weekend. Rotten Tomato scores were as high as 100% earlier in the week among a handful of reviews but with 165 counted, it’s at a certified fresh of 77% which is 3 points shy of the first Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and close to where Order of the Phoenix  and Deathly Hallows Part 1 pegged (both 78%). So as to stimulate them, a month ago, Warner Bros. held a satellite simulcast event at theaters in London, Los Angeles, New York, Mexico City, Rome and Sao Paulo, where by Potter author and Fantastic Beasts scribe J.K. Rowling, producer David Heyman, director David Yates from London announced that Fantastic Beasts was the kickoff to a five film franchise with Potter sage Dumbledore making a cameo in the first movie.

Heading into the weekend, tracking had Fantastic Beasts at a $70M-$80M opening with Fandango reporting that advance ticket sales as of Wednesday were besting those of Doctor Strange prior to its opening.

The final two Harry Potters, Deathly Hallows: Part 1 & 2 were previewed during a time when exhibitors largely held midnight shows (a practice that’s no longer the norm in the wake of the The Dark Knight Rises 2012 shooting in Aurora, CO). Deathly Hallows Part 2 minted the best preview night for the franchise with $43.5M followed by Deathly Hallows Part 1 with $24M and Half Blood Prince at $22.2M. However, one can’t really compare the preview monies of these titles to Fantastic Beasts as that Potter cash was earned at a time when the franchise was ending, so the want-to-see was quite high.

Edge of Seventeen 3
Edge of Seventeen 3

STX Entertainment’s The Edge Of Seventeen is opening this weekend, and if there’s any indication of how much five-quad Fantastic Beasts is going to hog up all audiences, it can be seen in how much this R-Rated teen comedy was dinged, collecting $220KEdge of Seventeen which stars Hailee Steinfeld as a teen in throes of angst, who has a bond with her high school teacher played by Woody Harrelson, is a throwback to the John Hughes comedies.  It currently is 95% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and the hope is that older teens find this and that it legs out. Projections are between $8M-$10M at an estimated 1,900, which should be fine for this title that cost before P&A a mere $9M.

Open Road’s Vinny Paz biopic Bleed for This also held previews. We’re still waiting for them…The distributor is hoping for a $5M opening from 1,549 venues. The Miles Teller boxing film has a middling 64% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Among regular ranked movies yesterday, Doctor Strange was No. 1 with $2.1M and a two week running cume of $163.9M, still pacing ahead of Marvel’s previous fall title Thor: The Dark World at the same point in time by 6.6%. Thor 2 ended its run at $206.4M. Doctor Strange is expected to bring in a low $20M third weekend. Paramount’s Arrival was second with $1.47M and a week’s total of $31.6M. DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls from 20th Century Fox slotted third with $970K and a two week take of $98.7M; it’s gonna cross $100M today as it approaches a projected mid-to-high teens third sesh.

 

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