Underestimating the loyalty of J.K. Rowling fans is truly a fool’s errand, an assertion proven correct by the (ahem) fantastic performance of the first of five Harry Potter spin-offs, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, at the box office this weekend. Middling critical reception wasn’t enough to dissuade a generation that arguably gives more credence to Hogwarts houses than religious affiliations from seeing the film, and Fantastic Beasts brought in $75 million at the domestic box office, a decisive victory over No. 2 contender Doctor Strange’s soft $17.6 million. (Eddie Redmayne and company also pulled in an additional $143 million overseas.) That’s still abracadunderperforming compared to Box Office Mojo’s prediction of a $90 million opening weekend, but considering this wasn’t a Disney release, that may have just been magical thinking.
Speaking of soft, this was a positively flabby weekend for all the big studio films but Fantastic Beasts, with the rest of this week’s top five—Trolls, Arrival, and Almost Christmas, in that order—each dropping by at least half from the previous week. Mel Gibson’s patriotic gore-fest Hacksaw Ridge fared somewhat better with a 36.5 percent drop, landing it at No. 6. Only then do we encounter another of last weekend’s new releases, The Edge Of Seventeen, which came in at No. 7, making $4.8 million on slightly less than half the number of screens as Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. Divide that number in half again and you’ve got the total for the No. 8. contender, Bleed For This, which brought in just $2.3 million on a comparable number of screens.
But take heart, grown-ups: Just because you’re too old to fully feel all the passionate emotions the Wizarding World seems to evoke in its most devoted fans, doesn’t mean that there’s nothing to celebrate at the movies this weekend. In limited release, Moonlight continues to grow thanks to strong reviews and word of mouth—it climbed 25 percent this week to come in at No. 11 with $1.5 million—and Manchester By The Sea is already being hailed as a new beginning for director Kenneth Lonergan, bringing in $241,230 on four screens for the fourth-best per-theater average of the year. The film was bought by Amazon Studios after a buzzy debut at Sundance for $10 million, more than the receipts from Lonergan’s previous two films combined.
For more detailed numbers, visit Box Office Mojo.