LOS ANGELES • J.K. Rowling's Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them led the North American box office in its debut at the weekend, as Warner Bros launched the revival of the Harry Potter wizarding franchise.
The prequel took about US$75 million (S$107 million), according to ComScore. Costing an estimated US$330 million to make and market worldwide, it collected US$143.3 million more in partial release overseas.
Warner Bros has a lot riding on Fantastic Beasts, which is the first of a planned five-part series and a pillar of its long-term movie strategy. This year, the studio has also struggled to win critical reception for films based on its DC Comics characters.
Critics gave Fantastic Beasts 75 per cent positive reviews, according to Rottentomatoes.com.
As fans embraced the return to Potter-dom, three other movies arrived in wide release and were trampled.
Sony's Iraq War drama Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk took just US$930,000 and placed 14th after expanding to 1,176 theatres. The Lee Ang picture cost an estimated US$40 million to make. It has earned US$1.1 million since opening in limited release a week ago, a disastrous result for a film that was expected to be a major Oscar contender.
Overseas ticket sales may cushion the blow for Sony and its financing partners - a bit - and Sony has been credited with trying to push technological boundaries with the film. But there is no way around it: the film is a hall-of-fame box-office misfire.
Also bombing were boxing drama Bleed For This and teen dramedy, The Edge Of Seventeen, starring Hailee Steinfeld. Each collected US$2.4 million and US$4.8 million to come in at No. 8 and No. 7 respectively.
BLOOMBERG, REUTERS, NYTIMES