6:40am PT by Pamela McClintock
Box-Office Preview: 'Fantastic Beasts 2' Eyes $65M U.S. Bow for $250M Globally
J.K. Rowling's rollicking world of magic returns to the big screen this weekend with the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
The sequel will easily place No. 1 with a $65 million-plus debut in North America and north of $250 million globally. Crimes of Grindelwald is expected to pull in especially strong numbers in the U.K., Rowling's home country.
Early international results are promising. The movie opened to $10.1 million on Wednesday from 10 markets. France led with $2.6 million, 54 percent ahead of the first Fantastic Beasts. South Korea wasn't far behind with $2 million, the highest opening day for any film in the Harry Potter universe.
In North America, it remains to be seen whether Crimes of Grindelwald can match the $74.4 million debut of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the same pre-Thanksgiving weekend in 2016.
The follow-up, directed by David Yates and penned by Rowling, sparked controversy when Johnny Depp was cast as the villain Gellert Grindelwald.
Crimes of Grindelwald sees Eddie Redmayne return in the role of Newt Scamander, who is recruited by a young Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to take down Grindelwald. The ensemble cast features Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Callum Turner and Claudia Kim.
A slew of other films will compete with Fantastic Beasts 2 for attention this weekend, including fellow new offerings Widows and Instant Family.
Prerelease tracking shows Widows coming in slightly ahead of Instant Family. Directed by Steve McQueen, the female-fronted heist pic stars Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki and Cynthia Erivo as a cadre of women who plot to rob a crime boss after their husbands are killed.
Fox, New Regency and See-Saw Films partnered in bringing Widows to the big screen. The film is tracking to bring in between $12 million and $18 million in its domestic launch.
From Paramount, Instant Family likewise doesn't lack for star power in pairing Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as a married couple who foster three young children. Tracking shows the pic opening anywhere in the $10 million to $21 million range.
The all-audience comedy reteams Wahlberg with his Daddy's Home and Daddy's Home 2 director, Sean Anders.
Widows has awards ambitions, as does Green Book, which launches this weekend in 25 theaters in select markets. From DreamWorks, Participant and Universal, the comedy-drama stars Mahershala Ali and Viggo Mortensen as a classical pianist and an Italian-American driver, respectively, who embark on a road trip through the American South in the racially divided 1960s.
Elsewhere at the specialty box office, CBS Films' At Eternity's Gate, from acclaimed director Julian Schnabel and starring Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh, will open in four cinemas in New York City and Los Angeles after premiering at the 2018 Venice Film Festival, where Dafoe was awarded the Coppa Volpi for best actor.