Fans of the Wizarding World are eagerly awaiting the theatrical premiere of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Harry Potter spinoff/prequel that details the misadventures of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) as he attempts to recollect his magical creatures that are lost in 1920s New York. Warner Bros. is very bullish on the property, as J.K. Rowling has already confirmed a series of five Fantastic Beasts films, which will apparently cover the rise of the dark wizard Grindelwald (Johnny Depp). Viewers will get to see a young Albus Dumbledore in the sequel that’s due in 2018.
After a sluggish start, the fall box office has received a much-needed shot in the arm in November. Doctor Strange, Trolls, and now Arrival have all exceeded commercial expectations. Fantastic Beasts is poised to continue this hot streak as it opens this week, with projections set for $75 million domestically in the first three days. Of course, these days the global marketplace is more important than just North America, and fortunately for WB, their latest tentpole is in great shape in that regard as well.
In a report from Deadline, it’s said that Fantastic Beasts could make as much as $205 million worldwide in its first weekend. Per their figures, the split is estimated at $70-80 million in the U.S. and $90-125 million overseas. That would be a strong start, especially considering that the film’s production budget was $180 million. Recouping all of that in one week would mean Fantastic Beasts will turn a nice profit for the studio and kick off a new franchise in style. Its numbers obviously won’t be as high as some of the Harry Potter films, but the forecasts are an illustration of the power of the brand. Audiences haven’t gone back to this universe in five years, yet it still remains a vital part of the zeitgeist.
There’s little reason to believe Fantastic Beasts won’t be able to perform well. The early reviews have been mostly positive, and the two week cushion from Doctor Strange gives WB some breathing room. The hype surrounding Marvel’s latest has somewhat died down now, and it’s time for Newt Scamander to take the spotlight. Additionally, it is the only high-profile newcomer this weekend (some smaller dramas are also opening Friday), so Fantastic Beasts doesn’t have much in the way of direct competition.
A great debut is always welcomed, but the real test for Fantastic Beasts will be how it holds over the course of its run. It’s smartly positioned a month before Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, though Disney’s Moana looks like it will be a massive hit over Thanksgiving. It will be interesting to see what the movie’s final tally is given that WB already has a great deal invested in it. Chances are, Fantastic Beasts proves to be an extension of the Harry Potter legacy and enthralls another generation with a captivating tale. Following the franchise’s extended break, interest and demand in any continuation are high.
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