‘Potter’ fans work box office magic for ‘Fantastic Beasts’

pic-4-766-x-430Actor Eddie Redmayne (L) poses with writer J.K. Rowling as they arrive for the European premiere of the film `Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them` at Cineworld Imax, Leicester Square in London, Britain, Reports, Los Angeles
Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” debuted atop the North American box office, industry data showed Monday, taking a satisfactory but far from spellbinding $74.4 million. Based on a 2001 book by “Potter” novelist JK Rowling, the Warner Bros. film — starring Eddie Redmayne as a wizard in 1920s New York — had to rely on fans of the original franchise to bump up its numbers. Just a fifth of the opening weekend audience was under 18, while more than half were aged over 35, according to industry monitor Box Office Mojo. Analyst Brad Brevit concluded in a blog on the website that “previous ‘Harry Potter’ fans showed up, but the new generation wasn’t quite as inspired” by the $180 million spinoff. It was the lowest opening for any film in Rowling’s “Wizarding World” series although industry watchers expect it to go on to make an acceptable $280 million. It took first place away from Marvel’s “Doctor Strange”, which dropped to second in its third week in theaters as it posted another $17.8 million, for a total of $181.6 million. The movie, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as neurosurgeon Stephen Strange — whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident — is the 14th film in Disney’s “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls” dropped from second to third as it earned $17.4 million in revenue, box office tracker Exhibitor Relations said. Based on the classic plastic dolls known for their multi-colored hair, “Trolls,” featuring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, has reaped a total of $116.2 million in three weeks. Two movies in their second week — the acclaimed alien invasion movie “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and the festive dramedy “Almost Christmas” — dropped to fourth and fifth respectively, with $12.1 million and $7.3 million. Rounding out the top 10 films were: “Hacksaw Ridge” ($6.8 million) “Edge of Seventeen” ($4.8 million) “Bleed for This” ($2.4 million) “The Accountant” ($2.1 million) “Shut In” ($1.6 million)