Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts tops North American box office

A beast called a Demiguise in a scene from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
A beast called a Demiguise in a scene from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.PHOTO: WARNER BROS. PICTURES

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - The movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - another foray into the world of wizardry from Harry Potter author JK Rowling - topped North American box offices in its debut as it took in US$75 million (S$107 million), an industry group said Sunday (Nov 20).

Based on a book Rowling wrote in 2001 - it purports to be a reproduction of a textbook that was owned by Potter and required reading for all first-year Hogwarts students - the film is a story of wizardry and magical critters run amok in grim, sooty 1920s New York City.

Rowling herself wrote the screenplay in this Warner Bros. flick.

It grabbed first place away from Marvel's Doctor Strange, which dropped to second in its third week in theatres as it posted another US$17.7 million, for a total of US$181.5 million.

The movie, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as neurosurgeon Stephen Strange - whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident robs him of use of his hands - is the 14th film in Disney's Marvel Cinematic Universe.

DreamWorks Animation's Trolls dropped from second to third as it earned US$17.5 million in revenue, box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said.

Based on the classic plastic dolls known for their multi-colored hair, Trolls, featuring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, has reaped a total of US$116.2 million in three weeks.

Two movies in their second week - the acclaimed alien invasion movie Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and the festive dramedy Almost Christmas - dropped to fourth and fifth respectively, with US$11.8 million and US$7.03 million.

Mel Gibson's war movie Hacksaw Ridge took sixth place with US$6.8 million and has now chalked up a total of US$42.9 million.

The film tells the true story of World War II army medic Desmond Doss, a conscientious objector who went on to receive the Medal of Honor despite refusing to carry a weapon.

Rounding out the top 10 films were: Edge of Seventeen (US$4.8 million) Bleed for This (US$2.4 million) The Accountant (US$2.1 million) Shut In (US$1.6 million)