A new entry from a Harry Potter spin-off is the weekend’s best movie contender for the family audiences that made Sonic the Hedgehog 2 (NASDAQ:PARA) (PARAA) last weekend’s runaway box-office winner.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (NASDAQ:WBD) is the third entry in a prequel series to the eight mainline films in the smash Harry Potter franchise, which collectively grossed $7.7 billion worldwide.
The Fantastic Beasts films haven’t matched their parent franchise, but have so far been reliable moneymakers for Warner Bros. – the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, grossed $234 million domestically and a total of $814 million worldwide, while its follow-up Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hit $159.6 million domestic and $654.9 million globally.
The newest film is aiming for $40 million in a rollout hitting 4,200 theaters – which may be enough to take the top spot, if Sonic 2 sees a typical second-week drop-off from a strong $71 million opening.
(It also marks a showdown between two companies that have recently forged new identities: ViacomCBS rebranded around its Paramount brand (PARA) (PARAA), while Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) is spending its first week as a merged company after WarnerMedia spun off from AT&T and combined with Discovery.)
The only other wide release is an Easter-timed R-rated faith-based drama, Father Stu (SONY), starring Mel Gibson, and Mark Wahlberg as a boxer-turned-priest. It’s likely headed for an opening in the single digits, having opened Wednesday in just over 2,700 theaters as counter-programming to Sonic and Harry Potter.
Among other moves at Warner Bros. Discovery, the new company may look to overhaul its DC Entertainment comics-based unit to maximize value.