‘Potter’ fans work box office magic for ‘Fantastic Beasts’

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(FILES) This file photo taken on November 10, 2016 shows
Author J.K. Rowling attending the ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ World Premiere at Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center in New York. The movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” — another foray into the world of wizardry from “Harry Potter” author JK Rowling — topped North American box offices in its debut as it took in $75 million, an industry group said November 20, 2016. Based on a book Rowling wrote in 2001 — it purports to be a reproduction of a textbook that was owned by Potter and required reading for all first-year Hogwarts students — the film is a story of wizardry and magical critters run amok in grim, sooty 1920s New York City.
ANGELA WEISS / AFP

Harry Potter spin-off “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” debuted atop the North American box office, industry data showed Monday, taking a satisfactory but far from spellbinding $74.4 million.

Based on a 2001 book by “Potter” novelist J.K. Rowling, the Warner Bros. film — starring Eddie Redmayne as a wizard in 1920s New York — had to rely on fans of the original franchise to bump up its numbers.

Just a fifth of the opening weekend audience was under 18, while more than half were aged over 35, according to industry monitor Box Office Mojo.

Analyst Brad Brevit concluded in a blog on the website that “previous ‘Harry Potter’ fans showed up, but the new generation wasn’t quite as inspired” by the $180 million spinoff.

It was the lowest opening for any film in Rowling’s “Wizarding World” series although industry watchers expect it to go on to make an acceptable $280 million.

It took first place away from Marvel’s “Doctor Strange”, which dropped to second in its third week in theaters as it posted another $17.8 million, for a total of $181.6 million.

The movie, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch as neurosurgeon Stephen Strange — whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident — is the 14th film in Disney’s “Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

DreamWorks Animation’s “Trolls” dropped from second to third as it earned $17.4 million in revenue, box-office tracker Exhibitor Relations said.

Based on the classic plastic dolls known for their multi-colored hair, “Trolls,” featuring the voices of Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick, has reaped a total of $116.2 million in three weeks.

Two movies in their second week — the acclaimed alien invasion movie “Arrival,” starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and the festive dramedy “Almost Christmas” — dropped to fourth and fifth respectively, with $12.1 million and $7.3 million.

Rounding out the top 10 films were:

“Hacksaw Ridge” ($6.8 million)

“Edge of Seventeen” ($4.8 million)

“Bleed for This” ($2.4 million)

“The Accountant” ($2.1 million)

“Shut In” ($1.6 million)

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