It’s no surprise that ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ topped the box office charts this weekend, with $75M in the US and $218.3M globally.  This film kicks off a series of five projected movies– with the first sequel already scheduled to arrive on November 16, 2018– all penned by J.K. Rowling, the creator of ‘Harry Potter’, but did studio Warner Brothers bite off more than they could chew?  That’s what some insiders are wondering, as this movie’s opening is below that of other franchise players like ‘Doctor Strange’ ($85M opening weekend) and WB’s own ‘Suicide Squad’ ($133.6M… and that was considered a disappointment).

One distribution chief scoffs at allegations that ‘Fantastic Beasts’, with its budget of between $100-200M and marketing costs of roughly $150M, is under-performing:

“It’s solid, but we can’t make any hasty generalizations yet and pronounce it dead. We need to give this one three weeks and see how international fares.”

Another distribution chief bluntly stated, “They can’t be happy about this internally.”

Generally the consensus is that ‘Fantastic Beasts’ SHOULD have opened to closer to $90M to really be seen as a massive hit that can sustain a long series of films.

Warner Brothers, however, is standing by the film.  Domestic distribution chief Jeff Goldstein stated:

“J.K. Rowling has brilliantly brought us back to the magical world of wizards and has excited audiences who are experiencing the film as they head into the big Thanksgiving holiday.  The marketing was extraordinary and really inspired audiences everywhere.”

It MAY be the lack of connection to the Potter franchise that hurt ‘Fantastic Beasts’.  Though it takes place in the same Wizarding World, it also takes place roughly 100 years prior to the Potter books/movies so there wasn’t a close connection.  Hogwarts and Dumbledore are mentioned, but not seen.

Also some fingers are pointing to marketing, as the film wasn’t really promoted as a family movie, which may be a real problem next weekend, when Disney’s ‘Moana’ opens.

Regardless, the film has gotten good reviews, 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and earned an “A” CinemaScore from those who saw it.  With Thanksgiving coming up this week in the US, the film may very well prove to have the legs needed to carry it to a profit.

Here are the numbers:

  1. Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them (Warner Brothers) – $75M
  2. Doctor Strange (Marvel Studios/Disney) – $17.67M
  3. Trolls (Dreamworks Animation/20th Century Fox) – $17.5M
  4. Arrival (Paramount) – $11.8M
  5. Almost Christmas (Universal) – $7M

Some new arrivals that had hoped to serve as counter-programming/awards season bait have crashed hard.  ‘Edge of Seventeen’, ‘Bleed For This’ and ‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ all tanked.  (‘Billy Lynn’ didn’t even crack one million.)

As mentioned, powerhouse Disney’s latest animated flick, ‘Moana’ opens next weekend.  Also arriving are ‘Bad Santa 2’ and Brad Pitt’s ‘Allied’, which is getting awards buzz.  (Think Leonardo DiCaprio in ‘The Revenant’.)

Will any of these take down ‘Fantastic Beasts’?  Check back next week to see!

Source: Deadline