“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. But it’s also a sign that magic is in short supply for J.K. Rowling’s lucrative and ever-expanding Wizarding World.
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 2018follow-up “The Crimes of Grindelwald” bowed to $62 million.)
The diminishing enthusiasm for “Fantastic Beasts” is problematic because witchcraft and wizardry does not come cheap.
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.