Weekend Box Office: Oh Oh, It’s Magic!

The fans turned out this weekend for the latest offering in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world, but that was the only movie to perform as expected. Not only did the other wide releases miss the mark, but the expanding limited releases under-performed and all other holdovers dropped harder than usual. Of the expected moviegoers, only the Potterverse fans showed up this weekend.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them‘ will be an interesting title to track at the box office. While the spinoff originates from the highly successful eight-film ‘Harry Potter’ franchise, the content is brand new, not based on any existing books. Leading into the weekend, it was difficult to forecast the outcome. Most predictions were off, but the film’s distributor pegged it.

From 4,144 screens, including 2D, 3D, IMAX and IMAX 3D, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ grossed $75 million, easily making it the #1 movie in North America. In comparison to the ‘Harry Potter’ movies, this debut is less than $3 million behind the franchise’s two lowest-opening entries, which is a pretty solid feat for a spinoff. Overseas, where the magical film opened on Wednesday, the total sits at $143.3 million, giving it a worldwide debut of $218.3 million. With a budget of $180 million, as North America heads into a holiday week and the international roll-out continues, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ shouldn’t have any trouble becoming another big hit for Warner Bros.

After two weeks at the top of the charts, ‘Doctor Strange‘ took a pretty heavy hit, but it’s too early to tell if it will finish in second place or third. Falling 59% in attendance, Marvel’s latest earned $17.6 million. However, fellow three-week-old ‘Trolls‘ is also estimated to have made $17.5 million, so the two could very well swap positions when the weekend actuals are announced later today. Budgeted at $165 million, ‘Strange’ has now accumulated $181.5 million domestically and $390 million overseas, for a huge worldwide total of $571.5 million. With a smaller budget of $125 million, ‘Trolls’ sits with $116.2 million domestically, $145.1 million overseas, and $261.3 million worldwide.

Last week’s sci-fi opener ‘Arrival‘ dropped from third place to fourth. As was the case with ‘Doctor Strange’ and ‘Trolls’, the film’s week-over-week drop-off was harsher than expected. Adding $11.8 million, its domestic total is up to $43.3 million. Internationally, where its release is still limited, the alien encounter drama has made $10.8 million, making a worldwide total of $54.2 million.

Last week’s seasonal comedy ‘Almost Christmas‘ had a decent opening that led analysts to believe it would have long legs though the holidays. However, this weekend’s unfriendly drop is causing those predictions to be reversed. Falling 54%, it added $7 million to its domestic total, which is at $25.4 million, and seized the #5 spot.

The weekend’s other two nationwide releases opened outside the Top 5.

Playing on 1,945 screens, STX’s coming-of-age dramedy ‘The Edge of Seventeen‘ failed to find an audience. The small $9 million picture doesn’t need to earn much in order to be successful, but the $4.8 million debut isn’t much help in getting it there. With an R-rating keeping its targeted demographic from seeing the movie and the lead character being extremely unlikable, I’m not surprised to see this poor performance.

Doing even worse was Miles Teller’s boxing drama ‘Bleed for This‘. With an eighth place opening and a $2.3 million draw from 1,549 screens, someone at Open Road Films will certainly bleed for this.

The weekend’s two limited release Oscar hopefuls opened strongly. From 37 locations, ‘Nocturnal Animals‘ made $494,000 and a per-screen average of $13,351. Playing even better from just four locations, ‘Manchester by the Sea‘ earned $241,230 and a per-screen average of $60,308 – which is one of the year’s best. As we head into the competitive award season, both are expected to expand.

Top 10:

1. ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ (Warner Bros.) – $75,000,000

2. ‘Doctor Strange’ (Buena Vista) – $17,676,000

3. ‘Trolls’ (Fox) – $17,500,000

4. ‘Arrival’ (Paramount) – $11,800,000

5. ‘Almost Christmas’ (Universal) – $7,040,000

6. ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ (Lionsgate) – $6,750,000

7. ‘The Edge of Seventeen’ (STX) – $4,825,000

8. ‘Bleed for This’ (Open Road) – $2,357,946

9. ‘The Accountant’ (Warner Bros.) – $2,115,000

10. ‘Shut In’ (EuropaCorp) – $1,600,000

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