It looks like it’s going to be a good weekend for the wizarding world. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them kicked off its domestic box office run on Thursday night with $8.75 million, putting it on track to top the weekend box office easily and score at least $75 million. That’s where the current forecasting puts the Harry Potter prequel, but it’s possible the film could soar even higher thanks to positive reviews and a post-election national mood that’s in the toilet. Folks are looking for any kind of optimism or escape, and Fantastic Beasts provides that in spades with a bevy of adorable CG creatures to boot.
This is good news for Warner Bros., which had a lot riding on Fantastic Beasts. The film did everything right—it marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, director David Yates (who helmed the last 4 Potters) returned to take the helm, and the same design team crafted the world—but WB still had to sell audiences on a Harry Potter movie without Harry Potter. Against a budget of $180 million, and with a studio that sorely needs a new franchise, the success of Fantastic Beasts will no doubt be welcome news.
Indeed, Warner Bros. has had a so-so 2016, but got off to a rocky start with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The superhero pic was intended to be a bona fide mega-hit, kicking off the DC Extended Universe with a bang, but instead was met with a mixed response from critics and audiences and scored a respectable but not otherworldly $873.2 million. Suicide Squad, the riskier DC proposition, fared better with $745.6 million at the box office which, while lower than Batman v Superman, is an incredibly solid number in relation to Zack Snyder’s film given that it doesn’t feature the two most iconic superheroes of all time.
So Warner Bros. has been looking for something to fill that Harry Potter hole ever since Deathly Hallows – Part 2 hit theaters in 2011, and it looks like they may have found it in Fantastic Beasts. Pre-production is already underway on Fantastic Beasts 2 with Johnny Depp onboard to fill the Big Bad position for this new franchise, which will span a total of five films. Moreover, Rowling is in this thing for a long-haul as she’s agreed to write all of the features.
Exactly how high will Fantastic Beasts go, and will it have the legs to stay atop the box office over Thanksgiving next week? We’ll find out in short order, but with these Thursday night totals, things are off to a good start.
For comparison’s sake, here are the opening weekends for all of the previous Harry Potter movies:
|1.||Deathly Hallows – Part 2||$169,189,427|
|2.||Deathly Hallows – Part 1||$125,017,372|
|3.||Goblet of Fire||$102,685,961|
|4.||Prisoner of Azkaban||$93,687,367|
|6.||Chamber of Secrets||$88,357,488|
|8.||Order of the Phoenix||$77,108,414|