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Box Office: ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Conjures $8.8 Million on Thursday Night

Warner Bros.’ “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” has launched magically with $8.8 million in Thursday night preview showings in North America

The Harry Potter spinoff, starring Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, has been forecast to bring in at least $75 million at 4,144 locations this weekend.

“Fantastic Beasts,” written by Potter author J.K. Rowling, cost $180 million to make. It follows Scamander as he tries to retrieve magical creatures that have escaped from his valise and are running wild through 1926 New York City.

The cast boasts Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, and Samantha Morton. David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter movies, is helming. “Fantastic Beasts” has generated decent critical support with a 74% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Warner Bros. launched the final Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” five years ago. The finale opened with a dominating $169.1 million weekend in the U.S. and finished with $381 million domestically and $1.34 billion worldwide.

“Fantastic Beasts” opened in nine international markets on Wednesday with $6.9 million, then added 38 markets on Thursday for another $16.6 million, and another 16 on Friday, including the U.K. and Mexico. Warner Bros. and Rowling announced in mid-October that there will be four more films.

The third weekends of Disney-Marvel’s “Doctor Strange” and DreamWorks “Trolls” will be battling for second place with about $20 million each, followed by Paramount’s second frame of “Arrival” at about $15 million. “Doctor Strange” debuted with an $85.1 million domestic opening weekend on Nov. 4-6 and has grossed $161.7 million in its first 13 days.

STX Entertainment will debut “Edge of Seventeen,” an R-rated high-school dramedy starring Hailee Steinfeld, took in $220,000 in Thursday night previews amid expectations of a $10 million opening weekend at 1,945 locations in North America. Critics have embraced “Seventeen” with a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Open Road is launching “Bleed for This,” a boxing biopic starring Miles Teller as Vinny Pazienza, with forecasts for about $5 million at 1,549 locations. Sony will expand Ang Lee’s war drama “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” from two theaters last weekend to 1,176 locations amid expectations between $3 million and $5 million.

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