“Beasts” Tops, “Billy Lynn” Bombs At Box-Office

It was good to be a “Harry Potter” spin-off at the box-office this weekend as the first of a proposed five films in a “Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them” franchise debuted and raked in an estimated $75 million in North America alone over the weekend.

This 1920s New York-set prequel to J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” scored easily the lowest opening of any film set in the ‘Potter’ universe, behind the fifth and sixth films which nabbed $77 million a piece. Reviews were good but not great, on par with the weakest received ‘Potter’ films (the first two).

Overseas the film managed a $143 million haul across 63 markets, and in the UK it nabbed $18.3 million which is more than all but the two “Deadly Hallows” openings. Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” slipped to second with $17.7 million in its third weekend and currently has an impressive global haul of $571.5 million.

Other newcomers this week were the Hailee Steinfeld-led “The Edge of Seventeen” which opened in seventh place with $4.8 million, and the Miles Teller-led boxing drama “Bleed for This” which bombed with $2.3 million.

The real dog though is Ang Lee’s “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”. Following disastrous reviews, the film had an impressive limited opening on two screens last weekend and so went wide this week where it was hoping to score around $3-5 million. It didn’t come close, pulling in just $933,000 (less than $800 per cinema).

Barry Jenkins’ acclaimed “Moonlight” also went wider and fared better, making $1.6 million and a $2,436 per cinema average. It likely won’t expand much beyond that, but with all its critical love the award nominations buzz should soon follow.

On the limited release front, Kenneth Lonergan’s Sundance hit “Manchester by the Sea” finally opened and grossed $241,230 or $60,308 per theater – the best per-theater average ever for a Roadside Attractions release. Fashion icon turned filmmaker Tom Ford’s thriller “Nocturnal Animals” also arrived and grossed $494,000 or $13,351 per cinema.