'Fantastic Beasts' casts box-office spell with $75M

Magical movies have hypnotized the box office.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, an adventure that spins off a new franchise within the Harry Potter cinematic universe, made its debut with $75 million in its opening weekend, according to comScore.

The superhero sorcery-fest Doctor Strange, which topped the charts the last two weeks, slipped to No. 2 with $17.7 million ($181.5 million to date).

The Beasts opening is the lowest yet for J.K. Rowling's hugely successful Potter franchise, but still ranks as one of the year's 10 best debuts. Other silver linings: Beasts received mostly positive reviews (76% of critics gave it a thumbs up on aggregate site RottenTomatoes.com), while audiences graded it an A on CinemaScore.

Animated musical Trolls is hanging tough, scoring $17.5 million in its third weekend of release ($116.2 million total) — good enough for third place. The Amy Adams sci-fi film Arrival was fourth with $11.8 million ($43.4 million total) and the holiday comedy Almost Christmas rounded out the top five with $7 million ($25.4 million total).

New teen comedy The Edge of Seventeen garnered strong critical acclaim (95% on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences liked it (A-minus on CinemaScore) but made a lackluster debut with $4.8 million. Same went for the Miles Teller boxing film Bleed for This, which could only muster $2.4 million.

Final numbers are expected Monday.


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