‘Fantastic Beasts’ takes aim at a fantastic $80 million opening
The Harry Potter franchise comes roaring back into theatres after a five year absence—really? It’s only been five years since Deathly Hallows Part 2?—with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film is eyeing a release in the neighborhood of $80 million, which would place it on the low end of the Harry Potter spectrum: The two lowest openings of the series belong to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ($77.1 million) and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince ($77.8 million). Fantastic Beasts could go higher than $80 million, but a $100 million take is a longshot. There’s a fair bit that’s up in the air here: How excited are Harry Potter fans for this? Will people who aren't Harry Potter fans show up? Is a five-year gap long enough to make people hungry for a new Potter movie? Will anyone want to see a Potter movie without Potter in it? We’ll have to wait and see.
With other studios pretty much staying out of Fantastic Beasts’ way, spots two through four will belong to holdovers Trolls, Doctor Strange and Arrival. There’s some wiggle room for spot five, though. Almost Christmas could take it in its second week, or we could be looking at a top five finish for STX Entertainment’s The Edge of Seventeen, opening on 1,945 screens. The Edge of Seventeen has positive reviews on its side, and Almost Christmas might not benefit from that much of a Christmas bump when it’s not even December yet. On the other hand, Seventeen star Hailee Steinfeld’s ability to draw in audiences as a lead has not yet been proven; up to this point, she’s mostly done supporting roles.
Also out in wide release this weekend is the Miles Teller boxing drama Bleed for This, opening on 1,549 screens. Reviews are lukewarm, but with a budget of only $6 million, distributor Open Road Films doesn’t need huge numbers.