Is the Harry Potter franchise’s magic starting to fade? The latest big-screen installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, will easily top the box office this weekend, but its opening is coming in slightly below expectations, while also marking the lowest debut yet for a film set in author and screenwriter J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world.
From Friday through Sunday, the Warner Bros. release is on track to sell an estimated $62.2 million in tickets at 4,163 theaters in the U.S. and Canada; it had been forecast to bow in the $65 million to $75 million range. The sequel’s immediate predecessor, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, opened with $74.4 million in 2016, while the lowest opening for a film in the original Harry Potter series was $77.1 million, for 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Still, despite mediocre reviews, a decent CinemaScore of B-plus, and a hefty $200 million budget, The Crimes of Grindelwald should be a force at the global box office. Overseas, it will gross an estimated $191 million this weekend, bringing its worldwide total to $253.2 million. (The first Fantastic Beasts went on to earn $814 million worldwide, with foreign sales accounting for more than 70 percent of its haul.)
Written by Rowling herself and directed by wizarding world veteran David Yates, The Crimes of Grindelwald once again stars Eddie Redmayne as “magizoologist” Newt Scamander, who teams up with his former teacher Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to thwart the titular dark wizard played by Johnny Depp. The cast also includes Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Ezra Miller, and Zoe Kravitz.
Rowling has previously said the Fantastic Beasts saga, which takes place before the events of the Harry Potter series, will comprise five films.
Also arriving in theaters this weekend are Paramount’s comedy Instant Family, in fourth place with an estimated $14.7 million (on 3,286 screens), and Fox’s heist thriller Widows, in fifth place with an estimated $12.3 million (on 2,803 screens). Both openings are on par with expectations.
Starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, Instant Family centers on a couple who decide to start a family and end up adopting not one, but three kids. Reviews have been solid, and audiences gave it an A CinemaScore.
Widows hails from Oscar-winning filmmaker Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave, Shame) and Gone Girl writer (and EW alum) Gillian Flynn. It stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, and Elizabeth Debicki and tells the story of a group of women who plan a robbery to pay back a crime boss after their husbands are killed on a job. Critics have lauded the film, though moviegoers gave it a B CinemaScore.
Rounding out the top five this weekend are two holdovers: Universal’s animated holiday movie The Grinch, in second place with about $38.2 million, and Fox’s Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, in third with about $15.7 million.
In limited release, Universal’s awards hopeful Green Book, starring Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen, is bowing in 25 theaters with an estimated $313,000 (a per-screen average of $12,520), and CBS Films’ At Eternity’s Gate, starring Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh, is debuting in four theaters with an estimated $92,000 (a per-screen average of $23,000).
Overall box office is up 10.3 percent year-to-date, according to Comscore. See the Nov. 16-18 figures below.
1. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald — $62.2 million
2. The Grinch — $38.2 million
3. Bohemian Rhapsody — $15.7 million
4. Instant Family — $14.7 million
5. Widows — $12.3 million
6. The Nutcracker and the Four Realms — $4.7 million
7. A Star Is Born — $4.4 million
8. Overlord — $3.9 million
9. The Girl in the Spider’s Web — $2.5 million
10. Burn the Stage: The Movie — $2.3 million