Box Office Breakdown: ‘Fantastic Beasts’ whimpers 

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This week marked the release of the newest film in the Wizarding World franchise from Warner Bros., “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore.” The franchise has fallen into disarray in recent years and  is only getting worse. This downfall began with the controversies surrounding J.K. Rowling, the writer of the films and the creator of the Wizarding World, but soon spread to its cast members with controversy surrounding its stars Johnny Depp, and more recently, Ezra Miller. Combined with poor critical reception to its now penultimate entry, “The Crimes of Grindelwald,” the franchise’s “Fantastic Beasts” hype has tempered considerably. 

“The Secrets of Dumbledore” debuted to a $43 million gross this weekend, about $20 million less than “The Crimes of Grindelwald”’s opening weekend in 2018. To make matters worse, this film has a $200 million budget. Factoring in marketing expenses, the domestic-international split of the franchise and the theater’s share of box office revenue, the film likely needs to gross around $705 million worldwide, of which $175 million is domestic, to break even. With a $43 million opening weekend domestically, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” has virtually zero chance to gross that in North America, unless it has some magical legs. The film will likely close around $110 million domestically, perhaps worse depending on the trend next week. 

In second place is our previous week’s No. 1, “Sonic the Hedgehog 2.” The action-comedy based on the popular video game grossed another $30 million this weekend, a 58% drop from last week. Though this statistic is a bit on the steep side, 58% is not a disastrous number by any means. “Sonic 2” has grossed just south of $120 million domestically and is steadily rising. Next week is a big test, as the third weekend is usually a determinant of how strong legs will be for a film. If “Sonic” posts a strong hold next week, $200 million may be in sight. 

In third place, with a gross of $6.5 million is the adventure-comedy “The Lost City.” This film has been holding great, dropping only 28% in its fourth weekend. This pushes the film’s gross to $78 million. While it likely will not profit, a mid-budget comedy posting a near-$100 million domestic gross is quite impressive in this 2022 theatrical marketplace. I am not sure if this film’s gross helps or hurts the mid-budget comedy’s hopes for continued theatrical success, but it certainly doesn’t mark its death. 

In fourth and fifth place this week are two new films to enter the top five: “Everything Everywhere All at Once” and “Father Stu,” grossing $6.2 million and $5.7 million respectively. The $25 million budgeted “Everything Everywhere All at Once” started out in limited release, but has slowly added theaters and increased its revenue week to week, now having made over $17 million domestically. Due to its incredibly strong critical reception, it should continue to add theaters and grow in revenue over these next few weeks, unless its looming competitors start to steal screens. “Father Stu” starring Mark Wahlberg was a surprising entry to the top five, outlasting “Morbius”’ third weekend, though it will likely have difficulty holding these next few weeks due to its poor critical reception. 

There are three new films releasing wide next weekend: “The Bad Guys,” “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” and “The Northman.”  

“The Bad Guys” is a DreamWorks animated film, which has been pretty hit or miss in recent years. I think the film is due for a $25 million opening. 

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” got great reviews out of the South by Southwest film festival and is continuing to get positive response from critics. The concept of Nicolas Cage playing himself has gotten some buzz, but I think it will only be enough to earn around a $20 million opening weekend. 

“The Northman” comes from director Robert Eggers, who has made critical hits in recent years, such as “The Witch” and “The Lighthouse.” The film reportedly has a $90 million budget, which considering “The Last Duel”’s poor box office results, poses poorly for this film. I believe it will open to around $10 million. 

But we will see what happens next week. Perhaps “The Bad Guys” will spread its wickedness across the charts, or “The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” will launch the resurgence of Nicolas Cage or perhaps “The Northman” will be a surprise No. 1. We will have to wait and see. 

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