‘Fan­tas­tic Beasts’ spins magic, ‘Billy Lynn’s’ tanks

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - KICKOFF -

LOS AN­GE­LES » Harry Pot­ter spinoff “Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them” cast a spell over au­di­ences in its de­but, sum­mon­ing $75 mil­lion ac­cord­ing to stu­dio es­ti­mates Sun­day and un­seat­ing “Doc­tor Strange” from the top spot.

Star­ring Ed­die Red­mayne and di­rected by Harry Pot­ter alum David Yates, “Fan­tas­tic Beasts,” a Warner Bros. re­lease, cost around $180 mil­lion to pro­duce, and is meant to kick off a five film fran­chise based on au­thor and screen­writer J.K. Rowl­ing’s cre­ation.

It’s been scor­ing well with crit­ics and au­di­ences, who gave the film an A Cine­maS­core. Ac­cord­ing to the stu­dio, 55 per­cent of at­ten­dees were fe­male and 65 per­cent were over the age of 25.

“It’s a real crowd pleaser,” said Jeff Gold­stein, Warner Bros.’ pres­i­dent of do­mes­tic dis­tri­bu­tion. He noted that the film per­formed es­pe­cially well in small- to medium-sized towns across North Amer­ica, and not just in the ma­jor mar­kets.

Paul Der­garabe­dian, a se­nior me­dia an­a­lyst for box of­fice tracker comS­core, at­tributes the solid turnout to the good­will amassed by the Harry Pot­ter films.

While “Fan­tas­tic Beasts” doesn’t quite com­pare to the open­ing week­ends of the “Harry Pot­ter” films, which av­er­aged over $91 mil­lion in their de­buts, Gold­stein is hope­ful for how it will play out over the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day when kids are out of school.

In­deed, it was a strong week­end for all-ages films over­all in the lead-up to the hol­i­day, with “Doc­tor Strange” plac­ing sec­ond with $17.7 mil­lion and “Trolls” close be­hind in third with $17.5 mil­lion. The sci-fi mindbender “Ar­rival” took fourth with $11.8 mil­lion, while the themed com­edy “Al­most Christ­mas” rounded out the top five with $7 mil­lion.

The suc­cess of the top films this week­end didn’t leave much room for other new wide re­leases to find their foot­ing this week­end, how­ever.

Ang Lee’s am­bi­tious wartime drama “Billy Lynn’s Long Half­time Walk” tanked in its ex­pan­sion from four to 1,176 the­aters with a mere $930,000. The film cost a re­ported $40 mil­lion to pro­duce and has net­ted only $1.1 mil­lion to­tal, hin­dered by neg­a­tive re­views of its revo­lu­tion­ary high-frame rate. Last year, Sony had a sim­i­larly in­aus­pi­cious start for “The Walk,” which was also touted as a must-see tech­no­log­i­cal achieve­ment.

Other more mod­estly bud­geted films also strug­gled, in­clud­ing the Rrated high school com­edy “The Edge of Seven­teen,” which earned $4.8 mil­lion, and the fact-based box­ing drama “Bleed for This,” which took in $2.4 mil­lion.

While box­ing pics out­side of the “Rocky” films are gen­er­ally a gam­ble, de­spite their abun­dance in the mar­ket­place, “The Edge of Seven­teen,” was ex­pected to do a bit bet­ter. The au­di­ence for the well-re­viewed film star­ring Hailee Ste­in­feld from first­time di­rec­tor Kelly Fre­mon Craig was 70 per­cent fe­male and 75 per­cent be­tween the ages of 17-34. The stu­dio is hop­ing good word of mouth will drive fur­ther re­turns.

In lim­ited re­lease, the drama “Manch­ester by the Sea,” ex­pected to be a big awards player, got off to a de­cent start with $241,230 from four the­aters. It will be ex­pand­ing in the com­ing weeks.


Ed­die Red­mayne in a scene from “Fan­tas­tic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

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