Nothing will be able to take down Warner Bros.’ Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them this weekend, but several other new releases could still make a splash. STX Entertainment’s teen comedy The Edge of Seventeen and Open Road Films’ boxing drama Bleed For This will contend against the wide expansion of the Sony / TriStar war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk.
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them (Warner Bros.)
- This spinoff of the Harry Potter franchises piggybacks on one of the most successful movie series — and by some measures the single most successful book series — of all time. Fantastic Beasts is set in the magical wizarding world but in 1920s New York instead of 1990s Britain.
- This marks the first screenplay from J.K. Rowling herself. Even the eight Harry Potter films were written by other screenwriters adapted from Rowling’s work, not directly from the pen of Rowling herself.
- The lowest-grossing Potter film after adjusting for inflation was 2010’s Deathly Hallows Part 1 with about $320 million in today’s dollars. So even if Fantastic Beasts performs lower than that, as it likely will, even a “crash” from that level would put it around the $200 million range total. It seems highly unlikely for it to dip below that minimum.
- There is virtually no concrete connection to the existing Harry Potter universe we all know and love, except for a one-line reference to Albus Dumbledore and a brief cameo appearance by the character Gellart Grindelwald, who is alluded to in the books through a backstory subplot. There’s no Harry or Ron or Hermione, no Hogwarts, nothing.
- The two main characters are played by Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston, both in their mid-30s. Children and teenagers, who made up so much of the Harry Potter fanbase, might not want to see a movie starring characters their parents’ ages.
- Warner Bros. had already announced plans for a second and third installment, also to be written by Rowling. Is WB counting chickens before they hatch? The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was also a wildly popular book and the first of a book trilogy, with plans to adapt all three into films — but then the first film’s average box office ended plans for a second and third movie installment. Something similar could be at risk of happening here.
The Edge of Seventeen (STX Entertainment)
- Hailee Steinfeld stars in this coming-of-age comedy, and has proven to be one of the biggest box office stars in that age range, with hits the past few years including $100+ million releases Pitch Perfect 2 and True Grit.
- The most similar film of the past few years may be 2010’s high school comedy Easy A, which started with $17.7 million en route to $58.4 million total. It was also arguably the film that made Emma Stone an A-list star, a status which Steinfeld might be just shy of right now.
- This has some of the makings of a sleeper hit, a movie that doesn’t debut high but keeps audiences coming into theaters long-term through word of mouth.
- Going up against Fantastic Beasts is a tough order for any of the wide releases this weekend, but Edge could be hurt more than Billy or Bleed by the competition, since both films will be aiming for the teenage audience that loved Harry Potter.
- Steinfeld’s box office hits have been ones where she played a supporting role. This is her first real test to see whether she can attract audiences as a lead. It remains to be seen whether she can bring in audiences as a lead as well.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk (Sony / TriStar)
- The plot shows a young military veteran being honored at a sold-out football game’s halftime show, interspersed with flashbacks to military battle scenes that still haunt him. Football and the military are two of Americans audience’s two favorite subjects, and a blitz of advertisements during NFL and college football games — consistently the most-watched television programs in the country — can only help.
- The cast is one of the most eclectic in recent years, with a mix of action and comedy and drama stars: Vin Diesel, Steve Martin, Kristen Stewart, and Chris Tucker. (Not to mention relative unknown Joe Alwyn in the title role.)
- Director Ang Lee is one of the few in his profession, along with James Cameron and Steven Spielberg, who directs films which earn great money and are top awards contenders — often mutually exclusive categories. See 2012’s Life of Pi with $124.9 million, 2005’s Brokeback Mountain with $83.0 million (about $109 million adjusted for inflation), and 2000’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with $128.0 million (about $195 million adjusted for inflation) for previous times when Lee achieving that balancing act.
- The film opened in limited release last weekend in only two theaters in New York City and Los Angeles, where it earned $114,129 for a per-theater average of $57,065. While that is certainly very good, compare it to the limited release of the stylistically-similar American Sniper in 2014, when it earned $633,456 in four theaters for a per-theater average of $158,364 — almost triple what Billy Lynn earned on that metric.
- Expanding into only 1,100 theaters, that is less than any of the other wide releases this weekend. If it was in 2,500 or more, we would be expecting a much higher wide opening gross than it is ultimately likely to get.
- Hacksaw Ridge opens two weekends ago but is still making decent money, while next weekend will see the release of Allied. Both war movies could cut into this war movie’s grosses, especially if Allied breaks out.
Bleed For This (Open Road Films)
- The true story of boxer Vinny Pazienza, who refused to retire after a life-threatening spinal injury, could inspire audiences — especially at a time when many of them could use some inspiration.
- Early reviews have been positive, if not quite at “knockout” levels.
- Boxing movies have had a mixed track record at the box office in the past few years. For every success like 2015’s Creed with $109.7 million or 2010’s The Fighter with $93.6 million, there are counterexamples like August’s Hands of Stone with $4.7 million and 2013’s Grudge Match with $29.8 million. Which category will this one fall into? If it doesn’t get the Oscar nominations like Creed or The Fighter did, and current projections are that it’s a dark horse at best, it could end up more like the films in the latter category.
- Miles Teller’s three most recent films have all performed middling to weak at the box office: August’s War Dogs with $43.0 million, March’s Allegiant with $66.1 million (about half of the next-lowest grossing film in the Divergent series), and summer 2015’s infamous superhero bomb Fantastic Four with $56.1 million. Hailed as one of Hollywood’s biggest rising stars, is his hype bigger than his box office results?
Boxoffice Pro predicts that the top 10 films at this weekend’s box office will earn $174.99 million total. That’s 20.0 percent higher than the $145.78 million earned by the top 10 films last weekend. It’s also 7.1 percent higher than the $163.25 million earned by the top 10 films on this weekend, when The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 debuted on top with $102.66 million.
Check out the official Boxoffice Pro weekend forecast predictions in the table below.
|Title||Distributor||Weekend||Domestic Total through Sun. 11/20/16|
|Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them||Warner Bros.||$82,000,000||$82,000,000|
|Doctor Strange||Buena Vista||$20,000,000||$184,600,000|
|The Edge of Seventeen||STX Entertainment||$11,000,000||$11,000,000|
|Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk||TriStar||$4,500,000||$4,500,000|
|The Accountant||Warner Bros.||$3,090,000||$82,290,000|
|Bleed For This||Open Road Films||$3,000,000||$3,000,000|
Shawn Robbins, Jesse Rifkin, and Alex Edghill contributed to this report.