Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore just topped the box office, but opened with some low numbers that even a spell couldn’t fix.
The film, the third of the Harry Potter prequels, opened with a $43 million debut, NBC News reports. Despite topping the box office, it fell way short of the $74 million opening of 2016’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and the $62 million opening of 2018’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. That marks the lowest debut for the franchise, which has seen its fair share of bad luck in recent years.
“We’ve seen the grosses edge downward with each of the Fantastic Beasts films, [but] this is still another in a long line of No. 1 debuts for films in that orbit in the Harry Potter universe,” said analyst Paul Dergarabedian of Comscore.
The worst opening for the franchises comes amid continued backlash over author J.K. Rowling’s views on the transgender community, as well as the firing of Johnny Depp in the role of Grindelwald, following domestic abuse allegations, which he has denied. Depp has since been replaced by Mads Mikkelsen. Another of the film’s stars, Ezra Miller, has also found himself in hot water recently, after a couple in Hawaii accused him of threatening them. He was also arrested in Hawaii on disorderly conduct and harassment charges.
Still, it was enough to top Sonic the Hedgehog, which finished at No. 2 during its second week with $30 million in North America, while Michael Bay’s Ambulance brought in $4 million. Last week, Sonic 2 debuted domestically with $71 million, which marked the largest box office debut for any video game film in history.
“Sonic 2‘s record opening is a victory for Paramount and for the industry at large,” said Paramount Theatrical Distribution Boss Chris Aronson. “The filmmakers did an amazing job of crafting a film that is both in service of Sonic’s legions of fans as well as the general and family audience. Growing a franchise is no small feat and having an opening +22% over the first film is a remarkable achievement. Kudos to the filmmakers and to the marketing and distributions teams at Paramount for doing a fantastic job in bringing the film into the global marketplace!”