Holiday moviegoing will explode this weekend as Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald takes over the world with a global near everywhere opening ranging that at the lowest looks to be coming in at $253M and at the highest $275M. On the low end that’s 15% higher than the worldwide launch of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them back in November 2016.
While the first movie posted a three-day opening stateside that was lower than any Harry Potter movie with $74.4M, it’s always been about the global play for Warner Bros. with this spinoff series with Fantastic Beasts 1 finaling at $814M WW ($580M offshore) and a $164.7M profit after all ancillaries. Warners is expecting a similar ratio with Grindelwald with overseas repping over 70% of the pic’s total gross.
The second Fantastic Beasts movie which is inspired by the fictitious textbook in the J.K. Rowling mythology by monster expert Newt Scamander is even more closely aligned to Harry Potter than its 2016 predecessor. Warner Bros. marketing materials have made that clear with shots of the Hogwarts castle and Jude Law playing a young Albus Dumbledore, the ultimate headmaster of the school and mentor to Harry Potter. In addition, Johnny Depp plays Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard with connection to all things nefarious in the Potter stories.
It is the sixth time that the J.K. Rowling Harry Potter canon has launched in the pre-Thanksgiving space; the first chapter Sorcerer’s Stone did back in 2001 which was then an opening domestic record at that time with $90.2M. Broken out Grindelwald is looking at $65M-$70M stateside with another $188M-$205M per industry estimates from foreign markets. Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them bowed to $145.5M in 63 overseas markets at historical rates and without China and Japan. In like-for-likes, and including China, that translates to about $180M today. FB2 is opening in 79 markets out of 80 (WB has adjusted the way it counts overseas territories since 2016).
Currently, FB2 on Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t have the same magical reviews (58% Rotten to 74% Certified Fresh), but it would be foolhardy to underestimate the Potter faithful. The franchise’s fans are among the most loyal of any series and new youngsters have constantly discovered the wizard-verse over the past several years.
As with the first Fantastic Beasts movie, spells will be cast first in France and Korea on Wednesday as the rest of the world catches up through Friday. Still, Crimes of Grindelwald has a slightly different pattern to the previous movie, going day-and-date everywhere save Japan.
That means that China is part of the opening suite. Venom just took a huge bite out of the market and has been warmly embraced, but FB2 should stuff some nice cash into Newt’s case. The last film did an unadjusted $41M during its 3-day bow, topping the lifetime of all other movies in the Wizarding World, save Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Local tracking has this one in the $45M range after stronger presales than the first film. WB showed off about 25 minutes of well-received footage in Beijing and held a press conference with stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Ezra Miller and Katherine Waterston back in late October. Imax will also have a China component out of the 1,306 screens where its playing the movie in 74 countries for the biggest day-and-date launch in the format’s history.
Tonight in the U.S. and Canada and 48 territories, Warner Bros. is holding a ‘Fantastic Fandom Event’ to coincide with the London premiere. Stateside in 600 locations, there’ll be a sneak screening with a special greeting from Redmayne and Law as well as special footage entitled “Connections” which connects all the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies. Tonight’s cash will be rolled into the Thursday night preview figure. Those shows will start at 5 PM in 3,300 locations. By Friday, FB2 will be in play at 4,125 theaters, owning all Imax, Dolby, PLF and motion-seat formats.
FB1 earned $8.75M in its domestic Thursday previewing, repping 30% of its $29.66M first Friday. Females turned out overall to see the movie at 55% per CinemaScore with 65% over 25. FB2 is also skewing more female on tracking. FB1 ultimately grossed $86M in China (unadjusted) which was the top market outside of the United States. Typically, the UK and Japan have been the biggest offshore plays for Harry Potter and on FB1 finaled behind the Middle Kingdom with $68M and $64M, respectively. Rounding out the Top 5 territories were Germany and Korea. In the latter, Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone was recently re-released theatrically.
France was the No. 6 market on FB1, and the world premiere for Grindelwald was held in Paris on Nov. 8 as part of the movie takes place there. From there, the team traveled to London for another red carpet unveiling.
Back in November 2016, FB1 was the only new wide offering at open, while Doctor Strange and Trolls were the only holdover pics covering a similar demo. This time around, other films in holdover play include the aforementioned Venom in China, Fox’s Bohemian Rhapsody and Universal’s The Grinch which is wisely holding off on adding new markets until the end of the month after a small rollout this past session. Next up in the family sphere will be Disney’s Ralph Breaks The Internet which starts hitting overseas in just a couple key markets beginning Nov. 21. China opens Nov. 23 in the crowded pre-holiday corridor.
Grindelwald isn’t the only movie going after families: Paramount has the Mark Wahlberg-Rose Byrne comedy Instant Family in 3,258 theaters and it’s eyeing a mid-teen to $20M launch. Previews start Thursday at 7PM.
20th Century Fox has New Regency/See-Saw’s socio-drama-heist movie Widows from 12 Years a Slave director Steve McQueen which tracking has also in the mid-teen, possibly $20M opening range.
Universal/DreamWorks/Participant Media’s Green Book is going out in 25 markets before busting wide on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. CBS Films has At Eternity’s Gate in four NY and LA locations from director Julian Schnabel, starring Willem Dafoe as Vincent van Gogh.