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Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald couldn’t conjure the same magic the first film did in its U.S. opening, but made up ground overseas for a worldwide launch of $253.2 million.
In North America, the sequel debuted to $62.2 million from 4,163 theaters, compared to $74.4 million for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the same pre-Thanksgiving weekend in 2016. The first Fantastic Beasts fared better with critics and earned an A CinemaScore, while Crimes of Grindelwald battled generally poor reviews and a B+ CinemaScore.
Overseas, the $200 million film roared to $191 million from 79 markets, slightly ahead of the first Beasts ($187 million). China led this time with $47.5 million, although Sony’s Venom stayed atop the chart in the Middle Kingdom with $51.2 million for a phenomenal 10-day total there of $207.1 million and a worldwide tally of $780.5 million.
Crimes of Grindelwald, penned by J.K. Rowling and directed by David Yates, sparked controversy when Johnny Depp was cast as the villain Gellert Grindelwald. Last week, the actor attended the premiere in London. In the U.K., the movie debuted to $16.3 million.
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. Nearly 70 percent of ticket buyers were over the age of 25, while females made up 57 percent of the audience.
Warners execs say the pic is lined up to do strong business as the holidays unfold, and dismissed any notion of franchise fatigue in North America. Also, they say the spinoff was always meant to be more of a global play, noting that more than 70 percent of the first film’s gross came from offshore.
“With a big holiday weekend coming up, we have a real opportunity,” says Warner Bros. president of domestic distribution Jeff Goldstein.
The holdover The Grinch posed plenty of competition for families in its second weekend, placing No. 2 with a flush $38.2 million from 4,141 locations for a 10-day domestic total of $126.5 million. It took in $9.4 million from 23 markets overseas, where it is rolling out slowly, for an early foreign cume of $25.2 million and $151.7 million globally.
The Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody also held well in its third outing, coming in No. 3 with $15.7 million from 3,810 cinemas. The film’s domestic cume through Sunday stands at $129.7 million. At the foreign box office, the movie earned an additional $45 million from 75 markets for a rocking international cume of $256.4 million and $384.3 million worldwide.
The new Paramount holiday comedy Instant Family, starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne, opened in fourth place in North America with $14.7 million from 3,286 theaters, well behind the Daddy’s Home series, also starring Wahlberg.
The tale of a married couple who take in three foster kids, Instant Family cost about $48 million to produce and reunites Wahlberg with his Daddy’s Home and Daddy’s Home 2 director, Sean Anders. Paramount is hoping for a long run throughout the Thanksgiving and Christmas corridor.
Widows, directed by Steve McQueen, rounded out the top five with $12.3 million from 2,803 locations. 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. The $42 million film, financed by New Regency, earned a B CinemaScore, which could prove problematic when it comes to word of mouth.
New Regency partnered with Fox and See-Saw Films in bringing Widows to the big screen. Overseas, it earned $2.9 million from 19 markets for an early foreign total of $7.3 million and $19.6 million globally.
Widows has awards ambitions, as does Green Book, which launched in 25 theaters for a solid per-screen average of $12,520. 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. The film earned a coveted A+ CinemaScore.
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, posted the top screen average of the weekend — $23,000 — upon opening 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.
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