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Box Office: ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Sequel Eyes $65 Million-Plus Opening

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is heading toward a magical debut between $65 million and $75 million when it hits theaters on Nov. 16.

If estimates hold, the sequel will see a similar opening to “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the first entry in the “Harry Potter” spinoff series. That film launched with $74 million on the same weekend two years earlier and collected over $234 million in North America and $580 million overseas during its theatrical run. It garnered largely positive reviews and became the first movie in the wizarding world to win an Oscar.

While the prequel series tells an entirely different story than the eight-part franchise chronicling everybody’s favorite boy wizard, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” starts to meld the wizarding world as the newest installment puts the spotlight on Albus Dumbledore. Before he was the beloved headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the magical figure attempted to take down dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Jude Law portrays a young Dumbledore, while Johnny Depp, whose appearance was briefly teased in the first film, plays the infamous Grindelwald. Eddie Redmayne returns as Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who works at the Ministry of Magic. He teams up with Dumbledore to resist Grindelwald’s reign of terror that threatens an even more divided wizarding world.

Warner Bros., the studio behind the mythical movies, intends for the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise to consist of five films. These adventures take place in 1920s New York City before the events in “Harry Potter.” With three weeks to go, projections could soar higher for the newest installment as Warner Bros. and AT&T partner on their first major marketing campaign since its merger with Time Warner in June.

“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay. David Yates, who helmed several “Harry Potter” movies, returns to direct. The cast also includes Katherine Waterston, Ezra Miller, and Zoe Kravitz. Rowling defended Depp’s involvement in the films after domestic assault allegations leveled against the actor drew controversy among fans. Depp addressed casting ire himself, saying, “I felt bad for J.K. [Rowling] having to field all these various feelings from people out there.”

The fantasy film will open against two movies tracking modest releases. “Widows,” Steve McQueen’s high stakes heist drama starring Viola Davis, as well as Mark Wahlberg’s comedy “Instant Family” are both tracking in the $10 million and $16 million range.

“Fantastic Beasts” is getting a head start on a crowded pre-Thanksgiving frame. “Creed II,” with Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone; Disney’s animated “Wreck-It Ralph” sequel, “Ralph Breaks the Internet” and Taron Egerton’s “Robin Hood” are launching the following weekend.

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