November 19, 2016

EARLY FRIDAY BOX OFFICE: “Fantastic” Not Quite Magical, “Edge of Seventeen,” “Billy Lynn” Obliviated


FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (Warners) wasn’t expected to touch the $60-90M opening day territory of the latter Harry Potter movies, since Fantastic is a spin-off that doesn’t include any of the major Potter characters.  But preliminary numbers at Deadline have it at $29.4M, lower than any of the Potters, and even farther away by comparison than it looks, because the $29.6M for Chamber of Secrets was from the era before “Friday” included 5-6 hours of Thursday night (which contributed $8.8M to Fantastic‘s opening day).  What remains to be seen is how frontloaded Fantastic is–the early Potters had weekends that more or less tripled their opening days, while the final chapter didn’t even double its start.  In any case, Fantastic will benefit from Thanksgiving next week and the lack of action blockbuster competition until Rogue One opens a month from now, so if it reaches $73M for the weekend, it should get well past $200M in the US.  In addition, it opens almost everywhere in the world this weekend (except China and Japan), so by Sunday we should have a clearer picture of how much profit is likely on roughly $350M in production/marketing costs.

Woe to the films that attempted to counterprogram Fantastic Beasts.  Despite strong reviews, THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (STX) found no audience with a $1.7M opening day, which may give it a $5M weekend.  By comparison, Easy A had a $6.8M opening day and $17.7M weekend.  Even with Seventeen‘s low costs, there’s unlikely to be a path to any profit.

Things were even worse for BLEED FOR THIS (Open Road), the second boxing movie of the season (after Hands of Stone) to fail with a dreadful $800K opening day for a weekend that may not hit $2.5M.

And yet even that looked good compared to the wide expansion of BILLY LYNN’S LONG HALFTIME WALK (LStar/Studio 8/TriStar/Sony), which managed just over $300K on Friday at 1176 theatres (none of them except the single houses in NY and LA featuring the filmmaker’s preferred 120 frames-per-second format), and will barely top $1M for the weekend.  Forget about the Oscar race–Billy Lynn is going to lose tens of millions for Sony.

The weekend’s other important expansion was MOONLIGHT (A24), now in barely-wide release at 650 theatres.  Its weekend per-theatre average will only be around $2000 (by way of comparison, 12 Years A Slave had a $12K average at 410 theatres, Birdman averaged $3000 at 857, and Spotlight averaged $6000 at 598).  The challenge will be to keep Moonlight visible as other Oscar candidates come flooding in, which should be helped by the critics’ awards that will start being announced after Thanksgiving.

Holdovers were also dented by Fantastic Beasts, especially DOCTOR STRANGE (Marvel/Disney) and TROLLS (DreamWorks Animation/20th), which both got hammered by 67% compared to last Friday respectively to $5M/$4M, and should each have a $17.5M weekend.   Strange is now on track for $215M in the US, slightly ahead of the $206.3M Marvel earned from its November release Thor 2, and Trolls should hit $150M, although it has the additional challenge of facing off with Disney’s Moana in a few days.

ARRIVAL (Film Nation/Paramount) fell by 64% from last Friday to $3.4M for an $11-12M weekend and a likely $65M US total, probably a breakeven proposition for the studio.

ALMOST CHRISTMAS (Universal) dropped 68% from last Friday to $1.9M, meaning that it won’t have long holiday season legs.  It could reach $6.5M for the weekend and an OK $40M US total.

The more adult HACKSAW RIDGE (Summit/Lionsgate) was least affected by Beasts, down 49% from last Friday to $1.9M, on its way to a $6.5M weekend and $55M US total.

A pair of potential awards contenders arrived in limited release.  NOCTURNAL ANIMALS (Focus/Universal) was relatively wide as arthouse releases go with a 37-theatre break, and its weekend per-theatre average should be an OK $11K.  MANCHESTER BY THE SEA (Amazon/Roadside) had a more typical 4-theatre opening and should average a solid $45K.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."