• Box Office

World Box Office, November 14-20

This weekend’s box office roundup found the world bewitched with Warner Bros. and Heyday Pictures’ Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Its US debut netted an enchanting $75 million, roughly on par with 2009’s Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. This J.K. Rowling penned adventure takes us back in time within the Harry Potter universe to mid 1920s New York, where the delicate coexistence between wizards and “Muggles,” or “No-Maj,” as they’re called in this update, is disrupted by the arrival of an eccentric young sorcerer. Newt Scaramander, played by Eddie Redmayne, is a boyish zoologist of magical creatures who comes to the city searching for a rare creature. When he accidentally swaps suitcases with a No-Maj, played by Dan Fogler, a plethora of fascinating and dangerous creatures escape from his bag and are set loose on New York. This lands him in hot water with the US’s counterpart to the Ministry of Magic, the Magical Congress of the United States. He soon finds himself in the middle of a war between the magical government and a rogue faction that is looking to ignite a conflict with the human world, led by Colin Farrell as Magical Security agent Percival Graves. Fantastic Beasts played to an older audience than any of the original films did as many of the books’ first school-aged fans are now well into their 30’s.

The film, like its protagonist, had little trouble carrying its whimsical cargo across the Atlantic. Fantastic Beasts made an impressive $143 million abroad. The biggest return came in its somewhat native England, where it made $19.5 million and equaled Batman vs. Superman’s record for the biggest British opening weekend of the year. In South Korea it made $14.2 million and marked Warner’s second biggest opening of all time in this first tier Asian market. Back in Europe it made $10.2 million in Germany as well as France, $9.8 million in Russia, and $6.6 million in Italy. Warners plans on making five Fantastic Beasts movies, giving themselves an AAA franchise to team with its DC Entertainment properties to compete with Star Wars and  the Marvel Universe.

The rest of the domestic market found itself cursed by Fantastic Beasts. Several would-be majors found themselves playing like art-house darlings, and will have a tough time escaping their difficult starts next frame where they will be joined by a host of heavyweight family friendly titles, comedies, and another award hopeful drama. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, a melancholic look at war from Ang Lee, floundered in its US debut where its portrayal of a hero’s grim return to his home town failed to capture the American imagination. Half of the country appears  too downtrodden after the presidential election to be up for this sort of forewarning fare, while the other half is still roiling in ecstasy and isn’t interested in hearing about the ugly fallout of the war in Irak. It made just $1 million from 1,176 theatres and is poised to be Sony/Tristar’s biggest bomb of the year. Meanwhile Open Road’s Bleed for This, the story of Rhode Island boxing great Vinny Paz, with its narrative that falls somewhere in between Raging Bull and The Wolf of Wall street, made just $2.5 million from 1,459 theatres.

In holdover news Disney and Marvel’s Dr. Strange added $43.6 million this weekend to reach a global cume of $571.5 million. It crossed the $100 million mark in China, and will surpass Iron Man’s lifetime gross of $585 million by the end of this frame. Trolls also held fast and made another $11.4 million overseas and $17.5 million at home to reach a global cume of $261.3 million.

Strange and Beasts should carry well into next weekend but the arrival of Moana, Bad Santa 2, Allied, and Lion could be the beginning of the end for the rest of this weekend’s new releases.


Check the complete worldwide box office numbers: