If there’s still a five-picture plan in place for Fantastic Beasts, clearly after this weekend’s $43M opening for The Secrets of Dumbledore, it’s time to pivot the Harry Potter franchise. That’s the lowest opening ever stateside for a J.K. Rowling Wizarding World movie, and it’s probably not prudent for the studio to go for another low opening record on the next project from the franchise. It was evident Potter fans didn’t like the last movie, Crimes of Grindelwald, even if there was a cliffhanger, and they didn’t want to come back for Dumbledore.
With the Warner Bros.-Discovery merger made official on Wall Street earlier this week, this is unfortunately not the best optics for the studio. However, as CEO David Zaslav gets to know Hollywood, he should realize that sometimes greenlight decisions pre-date the studio’s current regime. Who would greenlight a $200M net production on a franchise that wasn’t working? The Fantastic Beasts movies were put into play by former Warner Bros. Entertainment CEO Kevin Tsujihara.
The continued production of these off-beat Potter canon movies are all about the studio’s commitment to their own George Lucas, meaning Rowling, and the further build-out of the Wizarding World which spans theme parks, stage shows, the set tours, etc.
The threequel’s production was pushed in 2019 so that the script could be developed more. However, as is the nature of bruised franchises at the box office, no matter how great a third installment could be conjured up, it’s hard to restore business after fans turn their backs on the previous movie.
Former Warner Bros London-based Warner Bros. exec Josh Berger, who gets an EP credit here on Dumbledore, ran the Wizarding World franchise until roughly a year-and-a-half ago. WarnerMedia Studios and Network exec Ann Sarnoff took on that oversight. I understand she had no fingerprints on this threequel, nor could she put the brakes on it; again the threequel’s production monies were committed by a previous administration.
There are no immediate, concrete plans for the Harry Potter franchise. It was buzzed back in early 2021 that a Harry Potter spinoff series was being kicked around for HBO Max, but no writers were attached at the time. There isn’t a script in for a fourth Fantastic Beasts. If reality didn’t set in for Rowling on Grindelwald, or even the first Fantastic Beasts movie, it should set in now: The majority of your Potter fans do not want to see Fantastic Beasts.
If there’s any positive takeaways from Dumbledore, they include that Warner Bros. distribution picked a holiday to launch the movie to get the biggest audience they could and its the biggest opening for a female-skewing property during the pandemic. Comscore/Screen Engine exits show 38% women over 25–the biggest demo for the pic, which is amazing for the pandemic, followed by 33% men over 25, 16% women under 25 and 13% men under 25. Women over 25 gave the threequel the best grades at 86% positive, followed by women under 25 at 83%.
Also worthy, Warners didn’t dilute grosses down here with a day-and-date HBO Max model; many believe this film can still clear $100M-plus domestic, and that’s great for the exhibition ecosphere.
And as far as HBO Max goes, the company likely looks forward to a possible uptick in subs when the film hits the service sometime around Memorial Day weekend. Of those who watched Dumbledore, 24% told PostTrak they’d watch the movie again in cinemas, 14% would see again for free at home, 13% would purchase it digitally at home, while a combined 21% would buy it on DVD or Blu-Ray.
Before The Batman hits HBO Max tomorrow, that pic in its first seven weekends has reaped $365M, and that’s something to shout about as studios shorten their windows coming out of the pandemic. The Matt Reeves-directed movie hits $750M worldwide this weekend.
Dumbledore‘s global is at $193M, and should settle around $400M. This is after a $71.7M international/$150.4M global opening weekend. Crimping global grosses for Dumbledore is the fact that the China market isn’t at its full power; you can blame closed theaters during Covid, or the country’s POV toward U.S. movies. China delivered the best grosses for the first Fantastic Beasts outside the U.S. with $85M, and the second best after Japan on Grindelwald with $57.3M.
iSpot shows that Warners did spend to open Dumbledore with close to $21M committed to U.S. TV Spots, versus Sony’s $8M on Father Stu. TV ad impressions for Dumbledore were 958M, with spots airing across NBC, ABC, CBS, TBS and Syfy network, during events like Men’s college basketball, Winter Olympics, NBA games and on shows like Good Morning America and Survivor.
Imax drove $4.275M of Dumbledore’s ticket sales this weekend or 10% of the box office. The Top 5 Domestic IMAX locations this weekend were AMC Lincoln Square NY, AMC Citywalk Stadium LA, AMC Metreon San Francisco, AMC Empire NY, and Cineplex Scotiabank Toronto. Around 32% of the threequel’s business came from Imax, PLF, Dolby and motion seating, again indicative that when people go to the movies, they want to see it in the best format.
The top 10 locations for Dumbledore were: 1. AMC Lincoln Square NY, 2. AMC Burbank, 3. AMC Disney Springs Orlando, 4. AMC Empire NY, 5. AMC Citywalk Stadium LA, 6. Cineplex Odeon Brossard Montreal, 7. AMC Century City LA, 8. Santikos Palladium San Antonio, 9. Larry Miller Jordan Commons Megaplex Salt Lake City, and 10. Regal Warren Oklahoma City. The pic’s top 10 markets were 1. Los Angeles, 2. New York, 3. Dallas, 4. San Francisco, 5. Salt Lake City, 6. Chicago, 7. Houston, 8. Seattle, 9. Phoenix, and 10. Washington DC.
We’re building the weekend box office chart:
1.) Fantastic Beasts…Dumbledore (WB), 4,208 theaters, Fri $20M, Sat $13.9M, Sun $9.1M, 3-day $43M/Wk 1
2.) Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (Par) 4,258 theaters (+24), Fri $10.85M (-59%), Sat $11.6M, Sun $7.55M, 3-day $30M (-58%)/Total $119.6M/Wk 2
3.) The Lost City (Par) 3,430 (-367) theaters Fri. $2.07M (-20%), Sat $2.55M, Sun $1.9M, 3-day $6.5M (-28%)/Total $78.5M/ Wk 4
4.) Everything Everywhere All at Once (A24) 2,220 (+970) theaters, Fri $1.9M, Sat $2.4M, Sun $1.85M, 3-day $6.1M (+1%)/Total $17.7M/Wk 4
A fantastic hold here by the Daniels/AGBO movie. People are finding it, and I hear $20M is in store. May the riches reign upon the arthouses.
5.) Father Stu (Sony) 2,705 theaters, Fri $1.68M/Sat $2.2M, Sun $1.8M, 3-day $5.68M/Total $8M/Wk 1
6.) Morbius (Sony) 3,462 (-806) theaters, Fri $1.57M (-46%), Sat $1.98M, Sun $1.1M, 3-day $4.7M (-54%)/Total $65.1M/Wk 3
7.) Ambulance (Uni) 3,412 theaters, Fri $1.3M (-59%), Sat $1.6M, Sun $1.08M, 3-day $4.04M (-54%)/Total $15.6M/Wk 2
8.) The Batman(WB) 2,535 (-719) theaters Fri $1.3M (-28%), Sat $1.56M, Sun $940K, 3-day: $3.8M (-41%) Total $365M/Wk 7
9.) K.F.G. Chapter 2 (Sia) 510 theaters, Fri $527K Sat $573K, Sun $386K, 3-day $1.486M/Total $2.9M/Wk 1
10.) K.F.G. Chapter 2 (Viva, Hindi) 300 theaters $497K, Sat $518K, Sun $373K, 3-day $1.38M/Total $1.7M/Wk 1