‘Fantastic Beasts’ sequel tops box office but not as huge as expected

Warner Brothers did a stellar marketing job for over four months to generate interest in “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” but while the hard sell worked great overseas, not so hot reviews kept audiences away in the United States and Canada. The studio spent over $150 million just for the marketing campaign alone. The budget for the film was about $200 million, so the studio heads are grateful that worldwide audiences will keep it from losing out.

Bohemian Rhapsody” was also at a 40 percent like “Fantastic Beasts” on Rotten Tomatoes, it did the unusual of rising to 62 percent. Audiences came out in droves for two weeks to see the Freddy Mercury biopic, but critics are already saying that the magic of J.K. Rowling is tiring after ten films. This is only the second of the studios five Harry Potter prequels.

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” crawled, slithered and flew its way to the top of the weekend box office with a $62.2 million opening in the U.S. and Canada, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The latest offering from the Harry Potter multiverse fell short of the opening of the first film in the Warner Bros. series, 2016′s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which debuted with $74 million in a similar November release and went on to earn $234 million in the U.S. and Canada.

But all the Harry Potter films have had a broad international reach, and “Fantastic Beasts” had a hearty worldwide weekend gross, bringing in $191 million internationally for a total of $253 million, according to the studio’s estimates.

“Clearly it’s a huge phenomenon globally,” said Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution for Warner Bros.

Last week’s top film, “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” was second with $38.1 million, bringing its domestic tally to $126 million for Universal Pictures after two weekends. It took in $9.4 million more internationally.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” 20th Century Fox’s Freddie Mercury biopic, is still rocking, taking third place with $15.7 million for a total of $127 million. It remains a global hit, bringing in an additional $45.5 million internationally.

“Fantastic Beasts,” the second film in the series of Potter prequels written by J.K. Rowling and starring Eddie Redmayne, Johnny Depp, and Jude Law, had a budget of $200 million. Its reviews were largely lackluster, with critics saying Rowling’s magical world is wearing thin after 10 films.

Globally the first nine films have earned $8.5 billion, a total that this one’s worldwide take will inflate.

“This is yet another example of a movie whose opening weekend skewed heavily into the international territories,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst for comScore. “This happens a lot with bigger franchise movies. For many of these blockbusters, it’s the international component that comes in and saves the day.”

In the U.S., Warner Bros. is hoping young devotees who are out of school will keep “Fantastic Beasts” in flight through Thanksgiving.

“It’s a big week coming up,” Goldstein said. “Friday is one of the biggest movie days of the year.”

It will have a major challenger in Disney’s “Ralph Breaks The Internet,” which opens Wednesday, as does “Creed II.”

“Fantastic Beasts” continues a year of high points and hits for Warner from a diverse string of movies, including “The Meg,” ″Crazy Rich Asians,” ″The Nun” and “A Star is Born.”

“Warner Bros. is on a roll that every studio would envy,” Dergarabedian said.

Two new wide-release movies had underwhelming starts in fourth and fifth place. “Instant Family” (Paramount), a well-reviewed PG-13 comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne that cost roughly $48 million to make, sold an estimated $14.7 million in tickets. Steve McQueen’s R-rated crime thriller “Widows” (Fox), which also received mostly positive reviews, arrived to about $12.3 million in ticket sales. “Widows,” with a diverse ensemble cast led by Viola Davis, was independently financed for about $42 million.

Overall, the weekend was down 14.5 percent in the U.S. and Canada from the same timeframe a year earlier, when “Justice League” made for a major pre-Thanksgiving weekend.

Here are estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to comScore. Where available, the latest international numbers for also are included. Final domestic figures will be released Monday.

instant family vs fantastic beasts vs widows at box office
Instant Family, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Widows
  1. “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” $62.2 million ($191 million international).
  2. “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” $38.1 million ($9.4 million international).
  3. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $15.7 million ($45.5 million international).
  4. “Instant Family,” $14.7 million.
  5. “Widows,” $12.3 million ($2.8 million international).
  6. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” $4.7 million ($6.7 million international).
  7. A Star Is Born,” $4.3 million ($5.5 million international).
  8. “Overlord,” $3.8 million ($2.6 million international).
  9. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” $2.5 million ($2.8 million international).
  10. “Burn The Stage: The Movie,” $2.3 million ($5.2 million international).

Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at international theaters (excluding the U.S. and Canada), according to comScore:

  1. “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald,” $191 million.
  2. Venom,” $55 million.
  3. “Bohemian Rhapsody,” $45.5 million.
  4. “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch,” $9.4 million.
  5. “A Cool Fish,” $8.1 million.
  6. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms,” $6.7 million.
  7. “A Star Is Born,” $5.5 million.
  8. “Burn The Stage: The Movie,” $5.2 million.
  9. “Intimate Strangers,” $4.6 million.
  10. “Detective Conan: Zero the Enforcer,” $2.8 million.