‘Fantastic Beasts’ No. 1 With $75M, Makes Rivals Disappear

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling can still cast a magic spell at the box office — although not as powerful sans the Boy Who Lived, at least in North America.

Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter spinoff and prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, from a script by Rowling, topped the weekend domestic box office with $75 million from 4,144 theaters, behind the openings of all eight Harry Potter movies but in line with other high-profile spinoffs, such as the Hobbit trilogy.

Disney and Marvel’s Doctor Strange continued to wow as it crossed the $570 million mark globally, and will soon overtake fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe title Iron Man ($585 million) after already topping several other MCU installments.

However, the post-presidential election bump the box office enjoyed last weekend didn’t last, as holdovers saw their usual drops. Doctor Strange, for example, fell 59 percent domestically to $17.7 million to place No. 2. Overseas, the pic took in another sturdy $26 million for a foreign total of $390 million and a global haul of $571.5 million. That includes $103 million in China, where Doctor Strange has exceeded the lifetime totals of superhero titles including Guardians of the Galaxy and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice.

In North America, Fox and DreamWorks Animation’s Trolls followed with $17.5 million to pass the $100 million mark domestically and finish Sunday with a $116.2 million cume in North America and $261.3 million worldwide. Paramount release Arrival placed No. 4 with $11.8 million for a domestic total of $43.4 million. And Universal’s Almost Christmas rounded out the top five with $7 million for a domestic tally of $25.4 million.

After Fantastic Beasts, the three other new films opening nationwide this weekend fared poorly.

STX’s edgy, R-rated coming-of-age drama The Edge of Seventeen debuted to $4.8 million for a seventh-place finish. The film, which cost $9 million to make, had hoped to launch in the $10 million range. “We were disappointed but we were very financially responsible, so we were able to take a creative risk,” said Adam Fogelson, president of STX’s Motion Picture Group.

Open Road’s boxing biopic Bleed for This fared even worse with $2.5 million from 1,459 theaters. The film stars Miles Teller as Vinny Pazienza, a boxer who attempts to make a comeback after a terrible car accident.

Ang Lee’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is the biggest bomb, earning an estimated $1 million from 1,176 theaters for Sony/TriStar after opening last weekend in New York and Los Angeles. That’s even worse than last year’s The Walk, which opened to $1.5 million from 448 theaters. Billy Lynn grossed $350,000 on Friday.

With Hollywood entering the heart of awards season, several high-profile releases debuted in select theaters at the specialty box office this weekend, including Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals, from Focus Features, and Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea, from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions.

Manchester, which launched in four cinemas in New York and Los Angeles, grossed $241,230 for a location average of $60,308, one of the best showings of the year and best ever for Roadside.

Nocturnal Animals opted for a larger footprint, opening to $494,000 from 37 locations for a location average of $13,351. Both films hope to serve as strong counterprogramming over Thanksgiving weekend.