Ageing Harry Potter fans help Fantastic Beasts to box office magic

Eddie Redmayne

Warner Bros’ enormous investment in a new five-part franchise based on the wizarding world created by JK Rowling appears to have paid off.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which stars Eddie Redmayne as a Hogwarts alumnus in 1920s New York, was the year’s best opener in the UK, where it took £14.8m – better than every Harry Potter film save for the final two instalments.

The film, which has still to open in lucrative markets such as China and Japan, has already recouped a total of £176.8m against its estimated £240m production budget and marketing costs.

However, it opened less spectacularly in the US, with £63.8m, less than any of the Potter films, but in line with other major franchise spin-offs, such as the Hobbit movies. The studio behind the film attributed the dent in expectations to a lack of familiarity with the source material (Fantastic Beasts is not based on a book), despite the action being moved to America. “This is dead on what we were looking for,” said Jeff Goldstein, president of US domestic distribution at Warner Bros. “Jo Rowling brilliantly told a story that inspired her fanbase to come out in a big way.”

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In the US, audiences appeared to be largely made up of grownup Potter fans, with 65% of the crowd over the age of 25: a double-figure percentage point increase from the final Potter movies, which were released in 2010 and 2011. Of moviegoers on the opening night, 55% were aged between 25 and 35, and the same proportion of them were female.

Doctor Strange, Trolls and Arrival continue to perform well in the US, but two new films which had hoped to be strong awards contenders flopped. Bleed for This, a boxing drama with Miles Teller, made just £1.9m, while Ang Lee’s technically innovative Iraq war drama Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk took £754,000.

But there were better results for a couple of other Oscar hopefuls. Manchester by the Sea opened in four cinemas to around £200,000; it’s £48,000 site average is one of the best of the year. And Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals made £400,000 from 37 locations.

In the UK, there was a strikingly poor showing for Idris Elba’s London-set drama 100 Streets, which took just £245 in total.

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Catherine Shoard, for theguardian.com on Monday 21st November 2016 12.53 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010