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Weekend Predictions: Will Fantastic Be Fantastic? Or will it merely be a Beast at the Box Office?

November 17th, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

At the beginning of the month, we thought there would be four wide releases / expansions this week. However, it turns out there will be just one, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The lack of wide releases should help it at the box office and there is a small chance it could top $100 million over the next three days. While there are no other wide releases, there are a few films opening or expanding semi-wide. Of these, The Edge of Seventeen is the only one with a realistic shot at the top five. It is earning the best reviews of the week and did earn a lot of film festival buzz, so that should help. Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk had an amazing opening in limited release last weekend, but it will likely struggle as it expands into just over 1,000 theaters this weekend. Finally there’s Bleed for This, which is expected to barely make the top ten. This weekend last year, the final installment of the Hunger Games franchise opened with just over $100 million. There’s a slim chance Fantastic Beasts will do the same. Even if it doesn’t, the depth this year is much better than last year and that should help 2016 win in the year-over-year comparison.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the prequel to the Harry Potter franchise, which is one of the most successful franchises of all time. However, the last installment came out five years ago and I fear the excitement that came with the novels being released as the movies were being made simply can’t be replicated. I’ve also heard some analysts are worried this film seems to be aimed at adults and not kids, like the original franchise was. However, kids who grew up on the books are now adults. You could have been a pre-teen when the first book came out and be in your 30s now -- oh god, I feel ancient. ... Moving on. The reviews will help. The film’s Tomatometer Score isn’t as high as that earned by Doctor Strange or The Edge of Seventeen, but it is roughly average for the Harry Potter franchise. I expect an opening between $80 million and $90 million, with the high end marginally more likely than the low end. Let’s go with $86 million.

Trolls should remain in second place, because it won’t share a lot of its target audience with Fantastic Beasts, as Trolls is aimed squarely at kids. The film will fall faster than it did last week, as it doesn’t have a holiday to boost its Friday numbers. That said, it should still fall less than 40% to $22 million, putting it on pace to finish with $150 million.

Doctor Strange will be right behind with $20 million. Its target audience lines up more with Fantastic Beasts, so that’s going to hurt it. That said, $20 million during its third weekend of release is still great and Thanksgiving is next week so it should get a boost there. $200 million domestically is practically guaranteed, while $700 million worldwide is nearly as safe. There’s no way the studio isn’t happy about this.

Arrival beat expectations quite handily last weekend and thanks to its reviews and its more mature target demographic, it should hold on relatively well this weekend. A sub-40% drop isn’t out of the question, which would give the film nearly $15 million over the weekend. I think that’s a little generous; after all, Remembrance Day was last Friday, so the film did get a boost that it won’t get this weekend. That said, close to $14 million is still a great sophomore stint.

The Edge of Seventeen is the biggest and the best of the secondary releases of the week. The film was originally scheduled to come out in September, but its buzz was so good that it was pushed back to November. With reviews that are 93% positive, playing during the heart of Awards Season makes sense. I doubt it will be a big player, but it could nab a nomination or two for some high-profile awards. As for its box office chances, the film could score fourth place with $14 million, but fifth place with $12 million is a safer prediction.

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk did amazing business during its limited release last weekend, but its reviews suggest it won’t maintain its audience as it expands. I don’t think it will completely crash and it will likely earn a theater average of close to $5,000 for a $5 million weekend. That’s not bad for a film that is playing in only 1,100 theaters. It’s terrible for a film that cost $40 million to make, but that’s another issue.

Finally we have Bleed for This, which feels like busted Oscar-bait. It’s an inspirational sports movie based on real life events and Oscar voters really love inspirational movies, sports or otherwise, that are based on real life events. Unfortunately, its reviews are only 69% positive. That’s fine for a wide release, but it is nowhere near good enough for a Awards Season contender. Worse still, the film is playing in just 1,549 theaters and that likely means it will be lost in the crowd. Worst case scenario has it opening below the Mendoza Line, while even the best case scenario has it struggling to top $6 million. I’m going with $4 million, but I hope I’m being pessimistic.

- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Comparisons
- The Edge of Seventeen Comparisons
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Comparisons
- Bleed for This Comparisons

Filed under: Weekend Preview, Trolls, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, Doctor Strange, The Edge of Seventeen, Arrival, Bleed for This, Harry Potter, Hunger Games