With the majority of this week’s social media buzz being focused on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, there can be little surprise over the news that it is expected to top the box office this weekend… and then some. The return to J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has been highly anticipated by Harry Potter fans; but while it might be an exciting prospect to re-enter the magical realm, Fantastic Beasts is also a completely new branch of Rowling’s work, and nobody could have been quite sure of just how well the film would do. However, positive early reviews, plus a slew of publicity in recent weeks, have helped make Fantastic Beasts soar way ahead of its nearest box office rivals.
It’s now being reported that Fantastic Beasts made an impressive $29.7 million on Friday, its first day of release in U.S. theaters. The film is expected to make $76 million stateside by the end of the weekend, which is the time most families with school-age children will go to see it. These figures will soar even further when the interntional takings are factored in. To put those takings in perspective with other movies currently showing; Trolls is enjoying an impressive run and its Friday takings are projected to be around $3.9 million, while the still-popular Marvel offering, Doctor Strange, earned around $3.1 million.
When looking at the other new releases alongside Fantastic Beasts, you have to feel a little sorry for those distributors who chose this weekend to release their movies. Variety is reporting that fellow new release The Edge of Seventeen, starring Hailee Steinfeld, is predicted a $5-6 million opening weekend, with its Friday take in the region of $1.7 million. Meanwhile, Bleed For This (starring Miles Teller) is set to pull in around $3 million over the weekend in the U.S., after taking $895,000 on Friday.
Though Fantastic Beasts won’t hit the massive $100 million plus openings of the final few Harry Potter movies, it’s still an impressive opening for a film that is a prequel of sorts and yet also one that begins a whole new franchise of its own. Though the Harry Potter fandom still remains strong, the simple fact is that it’s been five years since any of Rowling’s work was on the big screen – and so, there was an element of risk with Fantastic Beasts, especially when Rowling later announced that it would form the first in a five movie franchise.
Fantastic Beasts stars Eddie Redmayne as Magizoologist Newt Scamander, who unwittingly unleashes havoc when his case full of magical creatures escape onto the streets of New York in 1926. However, the film has a much darker (and stronger) subplot, and the movie deals with the themes of persecution, injustice, and war. Reviews for the movie (including our own) have been good, and though there are criticisms, Fantastic Beasts is currently standing at 76% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an 87% audience score. It is perhaps this last figure that is the most important. After all, it’s the public who are paying for tickets, contributing to those box office numbers and ultimately, it’s the public audience that Warner Bros. will be hoping will return for future Fantastic Beasts installments.