‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’ rules box office despite low-key collection

“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” the third chapter in the “Harry Potter” spinoff series, collected a muted $43 million in its domestic box office debut.

In pandemic times, those ticket sales were enough to lead this weekend’s box office charts and land one of the biggest North American openings in 2022. Dinged by mixed reviews and growing apathy for prequel series star Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and company, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” stands as the worst start for a “Harry Potter”-adjacent movie. Its predecessors 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” launched to $74 million in North America, while the 2018 follow-up “The Crimes of Grindelwald” bowed to $62 million.

Warner Bros shelled out $200 million to produce “The Secrets of Dumbledore,” and the studio spent tens of millions more to promote the film to audiences across the globe. Like its predecessors, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” will be reliant on the international box office to make money in its theatrical run. The first two “Fantastic Beasts” installments — which ended with $814 million globally and $650 million globally, respectively — made nearly 75% of revenues from foreign sales.

“Fantastic Beasts 3,” too, has been a bigger draw to overseas audiences. Since the film touched down in several foreign markets last weekend, “The Secrets of Dumbledore” has grossed $193 million globally to date. But the persistence of COVID-19 has cut into the box office in China, where 50% of movie theaters are closed, while Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has meant that country is not granted access to Hollywood’s films. Those limitations have been difficult for all blockbusters. Since the pandemic began in 2020, only five Hollywood movies have generated at least $500 million at the global box office.

“Harry Potter” veteran David Yates directed the third chapter in the prequel series, which follows the beloved Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore (portrayed by Jude Law). But he’s only one of a couple Dumbledores with “secrets,” as referenced in the movie’s title. In “Fantastic Beasts 3,” which was co-written by Rowling and another “Potter” alum Steve Kloves, a young(er) Albus and Scamander, a notable magizoologist, team up to thwart the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Madds Mikkelson, replacing Johnny Depp) from igniting a wizarding world war. The cast also includes Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner and Jessica Williams.

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