Warner Bros.’ Wizarding World is in trouble.
After numerous delays due to the pandemic and plenty of behind-the-screen drama, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is on course for a so-so domestic box office opening of $40 million to $45 million after earning $20.1 million on Friday.
The opening day number included $6 million in Thursday previews.
The $200 million movie — which marks the third installment in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter spinoff franchise — is landing well behind his predecessors. Franchises have become ever more important to Hollywood studios, but it remains to be seen whether this particular series can keep going.
Directed by David Yates, Secrets of Dumbledore stars Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Mads Mikkelsen, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, William Nadylam, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams and Victoria Yeates.
In 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them debuted to $74.4 million domestically. The second installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, came in below that, or $62.2 million.
The Fantastic Beasts series has never caught on in the way Harry Potter did. Complicating matters, there has been plenty of behind-the-scenes drama and production delays due to COVID-19.
Ezra Miller, who plays Credence Barebone in all three films, made headlines after appearing to choke a fan outside a club and, most recently, allegedly harassed people at a bar in Hawaii and breaking into a couple’s hotel room. Then there is the series progenitor, Rowling, who has spent the past two years exressing her anti-trans views.
And Johnny Depp, who played the Fantastic Beasts villain Gellert Grindelwald in the second installment, left Secrets of Dumbledore when he became embroiled in domestic abuse allegations made by his ex-wife, Amber Heard. (Depp was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen.)
Overseas, Fantastic Beasts 3 has earned more than $60 million-plus to date from select markets where it rolled out early.
Other new offerings this weekend include Sony’s religious-themed Father Stu, which tells the true story of a former box office and two-bit actor who becomes a priest. Mark Wahlberg, Mel Gibson and Jacki Weaver star. Wahlberg is also one of the film’s producers and put up come of the financing.
Father Stu opened midweek in order to take advantage of kids being out of school for spring break, and grossed $1.6 million on Wednesday and $775,000 on Thursday for a two-day total of $2.3 million. On Friday, the film earned another $1.6 million for a projected five-day start of roughly $7 million.
Audiences that turned out for Father Stu certainly liked it, giving it an A CinemaScore and stellar exit polls. The movie did best among blue-collar crowds, and also generated big interest in Helena, Montana, where Father Stu is from.
For the weekend itself, Father Stu placed No. 5.
Among holdovers, Paramount’s Sonic the Hedgehog 2 came in second in is sophomore outing with $30 million as it jumped the $100 million mark to finish Easter Sunday with a domestic total of $119.6 million.
Romantic action-adventure The Lost City — likewise from Paramount — held in well with $6.5 million for a domestic total of $78.6 million.
Indie breakout Everything Everywhere All At Once, from A24, moved up to No. 4 as it expanded into a total of 2,200 locations. The film grossed $6.2 million for a domestic tally of $17.7 million.
Updated numbers will be released Sunday morning.
April 16, 8:45 a.m. Updated with Friday numbers.