Written by Dapo Olowu
This Box Office weekend saw ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ fall ill to the much rampant ‘sequel-itis’, an affliction affecting many other recent big-budget Hollywood follow-ups. Symptoms vary, but in the case of ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’, a mixture of an ordinary critical & moviegoer reception (40% on RT and a B+ on Cinemascore), and a packed film schedule, have seen the film suffer a $10m drop-off from its predecessor 2 years ago, to earn $62.2m – the lowest of the ‘Harry Potter’ films so far.
Of course, ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’s condition is nowhere near critical, but way under our $70m+ expectations. Two years ago, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ went onto finish at $234m domestically, and $580m overseas for a total of $814m worldwide. Its lop-sided domestic/international split is a precursor to Warner Bros’ cure for ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’; a focus on its international revenue.
Every ‘Wizarding World’ film has had its ratio somewhere in the 30:70 region, with ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and ‘The Deathly Hallows Pt. 2’ earning just 28% of their respective totals in the U.S. Warner Bros. have taken this into consideration with ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’, ditching the staggered international release option to open in 80 major markets across the globe at once.
We’re already seeing the treatment work: the film opened to over $191m overseas this weekend, eclipsing ‘Fantastic Beasts’ $145.5m international start. ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’s international gross from 79 countries included $37.5m from China and over $16m from the U.K, with Japan still to open at the end of the month.
Still, there’ll be many at WB who hoped for a better domestic start. ‘Fantastic Beasts’ earned a surprising opening weekend/domestic total multiplier of 3.15x when it grossed $234m back in 2016, while ‘Fantastic Beasts 2’, whose U.S. total seems destined to be the far more frontloaded, should end a domestic finish under $200m. It’s clear as the more U.S. audiences grow weary of a wider ‘Harry Potter’ universe (this is the second of five planned films), international moviegoers aren’t letting go just yet.
It also marks good news for ‘The Grinch’, as Illumination’s comedy remains the biggest opening of the month so far. Its second weekend gross of $38.6m gives it a $127m running total, ahead of Illumination’s last Seuss adaptation ‘The Lorax’ at the same time in its run.
Another of the new releases this weekend, ‘Instant Family’, failed to make an impact, grossing only $14.5m. The PG-13 comedy sees a similar opening to this year’s ‘I Feel Pretty’ ($16m) and ‘Tag’ ($14.9m), two comedies that finished at around $50m. ‘Instant Family’ boasts the best reception of the three, and its A on Cinemascore should grant it some staying power in coming weekends.
Staying power like ‘Daddy’s Home’ and ‘Daddy’s Home 2’, the previous collabs between director Sean Anders and star Mark Wahlberg, would be ideal, with a run like ‘Daddy’s Home’ in particular giving ‘Instant Family’ a $60m finish. Of course, this wouldn’t be anywhere near enough to guarantee profitability, raising the questions of firstly, who greenlit its $48m budget, and then, who forgot to call Will Ferrell to co-star?
If ‘Instant Family’ was neither here nor there, then ‘Widows’ is the flop of the weekend. With its $12.4m opening (from a $42m budget), the critically-acclaimed crime drama will likely finish on a domestic total around $35m.
Not the best news for director Steve McQueen, whose latest offering actually marks his biggest Box Office opening to date (overtaking ’12 Years a Slave’s $6.7m). It isn’t great news for studio 20th Century Fox either, as this marks another flop in a year where ‘Deadpool 2’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ have had to cover the losses of ‘The Darkest Minds’, ‘Bad Times at the El Royale’, ‘Red Sparrow’, and ‘The Predator’.
‘Widows’ ill-fortune may stem from an audience who didn’t connect with the film. Its B on Cinemascore and 65% audience RT score are just above-average, perhaps due to a marketing campaign that promoted a faster paced, heist-y film than the slower, character-driven story we ended up with. Regardless, it’s likely we’ll remember ‘Widows’ in the future for its award-season success, rather than its Box Office triumphs.
Thanksgiving weekend comes to town next weekend, with three more major releases – ‘Wreck It Ralph 2’, ‘Robin Hood’, and ‘Creed 2’ – looking to inflict damage onto this weekend’s three newbies, but who will hold up the best? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.