Weekend Box Office (November 18 - 20, 2016)

by Gitesh Pandya

THIS WEEKEND Warner Bros. kicked off its new spinoff franchise with a large opening for the big-budget fantasy adventure Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them at number one, but also did not reach the heights of any of its previous Harry Potter films from the same Wizarding World universe. The new PG-13 film starring Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne debuted to a $74.4M weekend from an ultrawide 4,144 theaters for a strong $17,954 average, according to final studio figures.

The book that the new movie was based on was not as popular as the Potter series but did come from the same author, J.K. Rowling, and plays as a prequel of sorts. So it was not expected to pull in every single fan of the Potter movies, but was looked at as being capable to attracting a substantial number of them. The first Potter opened this very same weekend 15 years ago and broke the all-time opening weekend record at the time with $90.3M on its way to $317.6M. Factor in the change in ticket prices since 2001, plus Beasts having 3D and IMAX options, and the new film sold roughly 45% fewer tickets in its first weekend. It also sold about 10% fewer opening weekend stubs as the first Twilight film from this same weekend eight years ago.

For the last seven consecutive years, this weekend before Thanksgiving was used by studios to launch major literary sequels from the Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games franchises and all of them opened north of $100M. But by not being a true sequel, Fantastic Beasts may have better legs as Warners hopes that many will find this film over the long holiday session. The studio has already planted its flags on this frame next year for its Justice League film and in 2018 for the next Fantastic Beasts film.

Reviews have been terrific and the A grade from CinemaScore bodes well for positive buzz ahead. Studio data indicated that the audience for the 1920s-set pic was 55% female and 55% over 35. 11% of the gross came from its 388 IMAX screens.

Beasts launched in most of the world this weekend and international saw a towering $145.5M debut from 63 markets putting the global opening at $220M. Leading the way were the U.K. with $18.3M over three days and Korea with $14.1M across five days. Next weekend will see big launches in the key markets of China and Japan. With a large production cost of $180M, plus a pretty penny for global marketing, a trajectory towards the $800M mark seems possible if it holds up moderately well in coming weeks.

Doctor Strange dropped a spot to second place and declined by a steep 59% to $17.8M giving Disney $181.6M. The Benedict Cumberbatch hit has now grossed more than the Captain America, Thor, and Ant-Man origin films which all finished in the range of $176-181M domestic. Strange still has the turkey holiday week ahead so it may end its run with $225M or more which would beat the $206.4M of Thor: The Dark World which also had an early November launch.

Overseas, Doctor Strange has boosted its total to $390M for a global gross of $572M. The last major market is Japan which opens in January so a final worldwide take of $700M+ may result. Leading all overseas markets is China which now stands at $103.2M which is more than what Batman v Superman did there earlier this year.

Toon offering Trolls followed with $17.4M, down 50%, putting Fox and DreamWorks Animation at $116.2M to date. With $145.1M from overseas territories, the music-filled kidpic now has grossed $261.3M worldwide with major markets like Korea, Japan, and Australia still to open.

The acclaimed sci-fi drama Arrival fell 50% to $12.1M putting Paramount at $43.7M to date for the $47M-budgeted film. A final of around $75M may result. Universal's comedy Almost Christmas took in $7.3M, off 52%, for a $25.6M cume. War drama Hacksaw Ridge dropped 37% to $6.7M leaving Lionsgate at $42.8M.

Strong reviews did little for the teen angst comedy The Edge of Seventeen which opened softly in seventh place with $4.8M from 1,945 locations for a mild $2,444 average. STX is hoping that good buzz from young adults will help the R-rated pic find its audience over the long holiday weekend ahead.

Faring even worse in its opening weekend was the boxing pic Bleed for This which generated no interest from paying audiences. The R-rated film bowed to $2.4M from 1,549 sites for a weak $1,515 average. Reviews were mixed for the Open Road release.

Sleeper hit The Accountant fell 51% to $2.2M for a cume to date of $81.3M for Warner Bros. Taking tenth place with $1.6M was the horror pic Shut In, off 56%, with a total now standing at $6M for EuropaCorp.

Some new players trying to establish themselves during awards season saw mixed results over the weekend. Sony expanded Ang Lee's new film Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk from two exclusive engagements to 1,176 theaters nationwide but was met with indifference grossing $901,062 for a dismal average of $766. Reviews were not too positive.

Focus debuted the Amy Adams-Jake Gyllenhaal film Nocturnal Animals in 37 theaters grossing $492,648 for a solid average of $13,315. The road ahead for the violent R-rated thriller includes an expansion Wednesday to 200 theaters for Thanksgiving and a nationwide roll-out on December 9. Reviews were generally good.

After earning acclaim across the board from film critics, the Casey Affleck-Michelle Williams drama Manchester By The Sea debuted to spectacular results in its platform bow collecting $256,498 from four houses for a scorching $64,125 average. From Amazon Studios and Roadside Attractions, the R-rated film scored the fourth biggest per-screen debut of 2016 helped in part by live Q&As in L.A. by producer Matt Damon. Positive word-of-mouth, stellar reviews, and awards buzz are expected to keep this one going in the weeks ahead as it expands.

The top ten films grossed $146.6M which was down 10% from last year when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 debuted at number one with $102.7M; and down 21% from 2014 when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 opened in the top spot with $121.9M.

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Watch the trailer for Wonder Woman.

Compared to projections, Fantastic Beasts opened below my $88M forecast. The Edge of Seventeen and Bleed for This also came in under my respective predictions of $8M and $4M.

Be sure to check back on Wednesday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Moana, Allied, Bad Santa 2, and Rules Don't Apply all open for Thanksgiving.


Last Updated: November 22, 2016 at 6:00PM ET

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