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‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’ Heading to $75 Million Opening

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” is ready to cast a powerful spell on the box office.

Warner Bros.’ tentpole is heading for a domestic opening weekend in the $75 million range, early estimates showed Friday.

The North American figure could wind up matching the $74.4 million opening for 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

The sequel is dominating the other openers — Fox/New Regency’s “Widows” and Paramount’s comedy “Instant Family,” with both heading for the $11 million to $13 million range. “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” conjured $9.1 million in Thursday night previews, while “Widows” made $600,00 in previews and “Instant Family” took in $550,000.

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” has been projected by the studio to earn $65 million from 4,163 domestic locations this weekend, though industry estimates showed that number could be closer to $75 million and as much as $250 million worldwide. “The Crimes of Grindelwald” is the second entry in what Warner Bros. intends to be a five-film franchise in a prequel series based on the wizarding world popularized by author J.K. Rowling in her seven “Harry Potter” books.

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” grossed $814 million worldwide, including $234 million domestically. The eight “Harry Potter” movies collectively hauled $7.72 billion globally between 2001 and 2011.

Eddie Redmayne returns as magizoologist Newt Scamander, along with Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Johnny Depp as the titular evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Jude Law joins the cast as Albus Dumbledore in the days before he was the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. David Yates, who helmed the final four “Harry Potter” movies and “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” is returning to direct.

Internationally, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” took in $31 million on 24,350 screens in 55 markets on Wednesday and Thursday. It will expand to 79 territories and to 46,000 screens this weekend.

Universal-Illumination’s second weekend of the animated comedy “The Grinch” will finish in second with about $35 million after topping $85 million domestically in its first six days. Fox’s third frame of “Bohemian Rhapsody” will wind up in third place with “Widows” and “Instant Family.”

“Widows” is performing at the lower end of expectations, which had been between $12 million and $18 million from 2,803 theaters. The movie, which carries a $40 million budget, centers on a group of widows who are forced to pay back a crime boss after their husbands are killed in a botched robbery. Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo star in the pic, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival and has been embraced by critics, with a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Fox, New Regency and See-Saw Films partnered on the production.

“Instant Family” is also coming in below forecasts, which had been projected to garner between $15 million and $20 million when it launches in 3,286 venues. The feel-good film stars Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne as a married couple who adopts three young children. The comedy is directed by Sean Anders, who teamed with Wahlberg on both “Daddy’s Home” movies. Anders collaborated with John Morris to co-write the script, loosely based on his own experiences. Reviews have been positive with a 70% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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