During the 2000s, the Harry Potter film franchise was one of Warner Bros.' most reliable cash cows, bringing in $7.7 billion collectively at the worldwide box office. Given the tremendous success the studio has had with the property, it shouldn't come as any surprise that they are in the midst of bringing it back with the spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Set in 1920s New York, the movie tells the tale of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), who has to track down some magical creatures he lost during his visit to the Big Apple. Veteran Harry Potter director David Yates is calling the shots, drawing from a script penned by none other than J.K. Rowling.
The creative team is very confident in Fantastic Beasts's ability to strike a chord with audiences, given that Rowling recently announced that this fall's film will be the first in a series of five. WB is hoping that this latest misadventure through the wizarding world can be another tentpole to complement their blossoming DC Extended Universe. Based on the first box office projections for Fantastic Beasts, the studio is well on their way to having another massive hit.
Per THR, the initial opening weekend predictions for the movie indicate that it could make $75 million in its first three days. There are those who peg the estimates closer to $70 million (since the Fantastic Beasts brand is untested), but either would be considered a success. For comparison's sake, this would put Fantastic Beasts in the same ballpark as Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, both of which debuted north of $77 million. The final domestic total for those two installments were $292 million and $301.9 million, respectively, which would be a great haul for Fantastic Beasts.
Opening in the middle of November (a window where several Harry Potter films found tremendous success) should be a benefit for the spinoff. It's in a sweet spot in the release calendar, premiering two weeks after Marvel's Doctor Strange and roughly a month prior to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Considering the word-of-mouth is positive, it should perform very well over the Thanksgiving holiday and take advantage of a relative lack of competition. Disney's Moana could prove to be a major moneymaker when it opens on November 23, but Fantastic Beasts will largely have its target demographic all to itself for most of its run. Plus, the film has been dominating discussions on social media, meaning the interest is definitely there.
With Fantastic Beasts poised to be a blockbuster in the United States, chances are it will be able to post high figures overseas as well. The franchise has a widespread global appeal, with Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban's $796.7 million global gross ranking as the brand's all-time "low." Additionally, WB received great news when it was announced Fantastic Beasts would have a Chinese release, meaning it will get to play in the world's second-largest film market. This year has seen plenty of big-budget duds at the box office, but Fantastic Beasts looks like it will be a rare runaway hit in 2016 and give fans plenty to look forward to in the future.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) release date: Nov 18, 2016