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Box Office: ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Levitates to No. 1 With $29.7 Million on Friday

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is soaring to number one at the box office this weekend, ahead of “Doctor Strange” and “Trolls,” which have won the past two frames.

The “Harry Potter” spinoff from Warner Bros. earned $29.7 million on Friday at 4,144 locations, and is expected to earn a hefty $76 million by the end of the weekend.

STX Entertainment’s “The Edge of Seventeen,” and Open Road’s “Bleed for This” will also open in the top 10 this weekend. The former, a high-school comedy drama starring Hailee Steinfeld is heading for an opening in the $5-6 million range after earning $1.7 million on Friday at 1,945 locations. The latter, a boxing biopic led by Miles Teller, made $895,000 on Friday at 1,549 locations and is on its way to earning around $3 million this weekend.

DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls” and Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” should round out the top three after earning an additional $3.9 million and $4.8 million respectively on Friday. Paramount’s “Arrival” is staying strong in its second weekend. The Amy Adams-starrer earned $3.4 million on Friday.

Fantastic Beasts” stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, an expert in the realm of magical creatures, who runs into trouble when beasts escape from his magical bag and run rampant around New York City. David Yates directed the film based on J.K. Rowling’s script. Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston and Samantha Morton also star in what is set to become a five-film franchise.

Although affiliated with the Potter franchise, “Fantastic Beasts” has less name and story recognition, and has yet to acquire the same cultural cache of Rowling’s treasured series. Five years ago “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2” enjoyed a $169.1 million domestic opening. Still the film has enjoyed mostly positive reviews with a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A CinemaScore. It costs about $180 million, which it should make back in its first weekend alone between domestic and international grosses.

“Edge of Seventeen,” directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and produced by James L. Brooks, tells the story of Nadine (Steinfeld) whose older brother starts dating her best friend. Feeling lonely and awkward, she stars an unexpected friendship with a boy, played by Hayden Szeto, who gives her hope. The film has been a hit with critics, and currently has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Bleed for This” tells the story of Vinny Paz, a world champion boxer who is determined to overcome a severe accident. It is directed by Ben Younger and also stars Aaron Eckhart and Katey Sagal in addition to Teller.

Two awards season contenders, “Nocturnal Animals” and “Manchester by the Sea” opened this weekend in limited release. The former, distributed by Focus Features, earned $163,000 on Friday at 37 locations while the latter, from Amazon Studios and Roadside Attraction, made $73,000 at only four locations.

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