Box Office: 'Fantastic Beasts 2' Earns $26M Friday for $63M-$65M U.S Bow
Elsewhere, Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne's new comedy 'Instant Family' and Steve McQueen's female-fronted heist pic 'Widows' are also opening nationwide.
Warner Bros.' Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald topped Friday's box-office chart with $25.7 million for a projected $63 million-$65 million domestic bow, slightly behind expectations as the film battles generally poor reviews and a B+ CinemaScore.
Friday's earnings included $9.1 million in previews earned in special screenings Tuesday night and additional showings on Thursday.
The sequel, penned by J.K. Rowling, will easily top the chart. Overseas, it could open to $185 million or more after finishing Friday with a three-day gross of $74.3 million, 14 percent ahead of the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It opened in the U.K. on Friday, earning $4.5 million. And in China, it launched to $12.3 million.
In North America, Fantastic Beasts 2 won't match the $74.4 million debut of Fantastic Beasts. The first film fared better with critics and earned an A CinemaScore from audiences.
Directed by David Yates, the follow-up 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.
Holdovers The Grinch and Bohemian Rhapsody are likely to claim second and third place with an estimated $39 million and $15.7 million, respectively.
New nationwide offerings Instant Family and Widows will follow with a projected $13 million plus and $12 million after earning $4.5 million and $4.2 million, respectively, on Friday.
From Paramount, Instant Family reunites Mark Wahlberg with his Daddy's Home and Daddy's Home 2 director, Sean Anders. Rose Byrne stars opposite Wahlberg in the tale of a married couple who take in three foster kids. The film earned a stellar A CinemaScore.
Widows, directed by Steve McQueen, is a female-fronted heist pic starring 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. It earned a B CinemaScore, which could prove problematic when it comes to word of mouth.
Fox, New Regency and See-Saw Films partnered in bringing Widows to the big screen.
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.
Nov. 16, 1:15 p.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.
Nov. 17, 7:50 a.m. Updated with revised weekend estimates.