‘Fantastic Beasts’ No. 1, But Not Among Harry Potter Films

By November 20, 2016
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As expected, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them finished at the very top of the domestic box office over the weekend. But what also became clear – Fantastic Beasts is no Harry Potter.

hallows-inset112016The first-ever screenwriting work from author J.K. Rowling earned $75 million at the box office, easily knocking Doctor Strange off its top perch. It effortlessly out-performed two other new wide releases, putting a Harry Potter film back on top of the box office for the first time since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II in July 2011.

Yet, the $75 million opening was the worst opening for a Harry Potter film, according to The Numbers, even before adjusting for inflation. It was below the $90.3 million opening for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001 and the $88.4 million opening for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.

The opening for Fantastic Beasts was more in line with 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince except for one caveat – those two films opened on Wednesdays, so their first two days weren’t included. When you include the extended opening week, Order of the Phoenix grossed $139.7 million while Half-Blood Prince grabbed $158 million.

It gets worse when you compare Fantastic Beasts to the inaugural Harry Potter film, but then adjust for inflation. The Sorcerer’s Stone made the equivalent of $122.7 million today.

Fantastic Beasts can’t even blame the time of year, either. This weekend last November, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 debuted at No. 1 with a $102.7 million opening.

The two other major releases were The Edge of Seventeen from The Simpsons producer James L. Brooks, and Bleed for This from writer and director Ben Younger, which starred Aaron Eckhart and Katey Sagal. Both films debuted out of the top five, earning a combined $7.2 million.

strange-inset112016Doctor Strange lost nearly 60 percent of its revenue from last week, picking up another $17.7 million. That brings its 17-day total to $181.5 million, moving it into ninth place domestically, ahead of Jason Bourne and behind the $325.1 million of Suicide Squad. At its current pace, the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring film does not have enough momentum to overtake the DC Comics ensemble film, likely missing the mark by $100 million once it’s all said and done.

Trolls lost less audience from the previous week, and was a close third behind Doctor Strange with $17.5 million. Its 17-day total is now $116.2 million, moving it into 18th place for the year ahead of Bad Moms.

The top five films earned $129 million. That’s down more than 12 percent from a year ago when the top five movies, led by Mockingjay, earned $147.4 million.

However, it is up from what was a slow week last week, improving that $127.8 million by a little less than 1 percent.

The film that had the strongest weekend based on its revenue per theater was Manchester by the Sea starring Casey Affleck and Michelle Williams. The film earned just over $240,000 for its opening weekend for Roadside Attractions. However, it was showing on just four screens, giving it a take of $60,308 per screen.

By comparison, Fantastic Beasts earned just under $18,100 per screen.

Fantastic Beasts may have done weak in the United States, but its overseas numbers are looking really good. In fact, it already has $143.3 million globally, lead by more than $10 million in South Korea alone, according to The Numbers. Doctor Strange, by comparison, has earned $390 million overseas after three weeks, but nearly a quarter of that comes from China.

Fantastic Beasts is now on pace to earn just under $135 million domestically. That total would put it just into the top 15 (not counting any additional films that come out this year) ahead of Ghostbusters.

Movie studios have a big weekend planned for Thanksgiving this coming week. Wide releases include Walt Disney’s latest animated movie, Moana, as well as Broad Green Pictures’ long-awaited crude holiday sequel, Bad Santa 2.

Also opening next week are Allied with Brad Pitt and Marion Cottilard, and Rules Don’t Apply with Warren Beatty and Star Wars’ new Han Solo, Alden Ehrenreich.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.