J.K. Rowling's "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them" led the box office in its debut this weekend, as Warner Bros. launched the revival of the 'Harry Potter' wizarding franchise.
The prequel to the multibillion Potter series collected $74.4 million in U.S. and Canadian theaters, ComScore Inc. said in an e-mailed statement Sunday. That missed the $82 million estimate of analysts at BoxOfficePro.com. Other new wide releases 'The Edge of Seventeen' and 'Bleed for This' placed seventh and eighth respectively.
Warner Bros., part of Time Warner, has a lot riding on 'Fantastic Beasts.' The film is the first of a planned five-part fantasy series and a pillar of the studio's long-term movie strategy. While No. 2 at the box office this year, Warner Bros. has struggled to win critical reception for films based on its DC Comics characters.
'Fantastic Beasts' cost $180 million to make, excluding marketing costs, researcher Box Office Mojo said. The film also opened in about 80% of international territories and is set to debut in China on Nov. 25.
'Fantastic Beasts' is a prequel to the first 'Harry Potter' film, released in 2001, and is based on a book of the same name by Rowling that was supposed to be a textbook studied by characters in the original series about the young wizard. The movie follows Newt Scamander, a wizard played by Eddie Redmayne, who collects and studies fantastical animals. In 1926, he travels to New York and discovers a community of wizards forced underground by the non-magical humans.
Critics gave the movie 75% positive reviews, according to Rottentomatoes.com.
The teen drama 'The Edge of Seventeen' featuring Hailee Steinfeld was the highest rated new release of the weekend, with 94% positive reviews. It collected $4.8 million in its domestic debut, ComScore said.
From STX Entertainment, the R-rated picture was predicted to open with $8.51 million according to Hollywood Stock Exchange. Its production budget was $9 million, according to Box Office Mojo. The other new release of the weekend, the sports drama 'Bleed for This' from Open Road Films, generated $2.4 million. It was expected to garner $3 million, according to analysts at BoxOfficePro.com.
The Sony Corp. drama "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," about a combat veteran, earned $930,000 and placed 14th after expanding to more than 1,000 theaters, ComScore said. The film from director Ang Lee employs new shooting and projection technology.
-- Bloomberg News