BOX OFFICE: DON’T BURY “DUMBLEDORE’S SECRETS” SO QUICKLY!
With the release last Friday of Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets in the US and Canada, as well as many other countries, the film is now playing in most theaters around the world. The countdown at the box office can therefore officially begin.
Indeed, the opening weekend in the United States is often considered an indicator of the film’s financial success. And the conclusions are extremely divided, because the figures are far below those of the Crimes of Grindelwald . Analysts are expecting the worst
theatrical result for a Wizarding World film .
While the first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them earned $74 million during its opening weekend in the US, and the second $62 million, this one only raked in $43 million. The decline therefore continues for the third film from this point of view, and some already see it as a condemnation for the continuation of the pentalogy .
THE INTERNATIONAL MARKET AND THE PANDEMIC
However, the success of a film is not measured only in the USA. The two previous films in the saga achieved 75% of their sales on the international market. By Sunday evening, the film had thus garnered $193 million worldwide.
In total, the two previous films ended up grossing $814 million and then $650 million worldwide respectively. The results of the second opus were considered mixed, weak enough to call into question the continuation of the adventure according to some, even if the critical success would also have a role to play. Suffice to say that, under these circumstances, a third film that achieves an even lower result can easily be seen as a death warrant for the franchise.
Analysts estimate that the film cost Warner Bros. around $200 million, not including the tens of millions spent on the promotional campaign. To be profitable, a blockbuster must generate approximately twice its total budget. However, only five Hollywood blockbusters have managed to cross the $500 million mark worldwide since the start of the pandemic in 2020 . It’s both worrying for the production, as it’s unlikely The Secrets of Dumbledore will achieve this feat; and also reassuring, because it puts the difficulties encountered into perspective.
Indeed, in these circumstances, The Secrets of Dumbledore still achieves one of the best opening weekends in 2022 on the American market and on the international market . The film achieved the best result among the productions in theaters during the Easter weekend. With $43 million, far from the $143 million earned by The Batman in the USA during its opening weekend, or even the $72 million of Sonic 2 , this third opus is still, relatively speaking, doing well.
IN THE HEXAGON
In France, the box office figures are not yet communicated. Only the number of entries is known. With a total of 884,026 tickets at the end of its first weekend in operation, the film started below 1st (1,267,868 admissions) and 2nd (1,485,824 admissions) but achieved the 2nd best score of 2022. and the 5th since the start of the pandemic. After one week, The Secrets of Dumbledore reached 1.2 million viewers in France, helped by Easter Monday, compared to 1.6 million for The Crimes of Grindelwald over the same period.
THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE FUTURE
To explain this lackluster start, everyone has their own explanation. Some see it as an effect of the pandemic with in particular still more than 50% of cinemas closed in China (where the film was only able to collect $10 million during the opening weekend, against $36 million for The Crimes of Grindelwald ). However, the success of some recently released films, such as Sonic 2 , proves that this is not the only factor that comes into play. Others, according to their respective convictions, therefore affirm that this result is due, which to the departure of Johnny Depp ; who to JK Rowling’s transphobic activism ; which to the catastrophic scenario of the previous opus. No one is right, no one is wrong; it is most likely the accumulation of all that. Not to mention the minor controversies such as the condemnation of Kevin Guthrie , the escapades of Ezra Miller , and the absence (or almost) noticed of two characters .
What could work in favor of Dumbledore’s Secrets , on the other hand, is the relatively positive public reception . Although professional critics still seem unconvinced (aggregated score of 48% on RottentTomatoes), they remain more nuanced than for The Crimes of Grindelwald (36%). But, above all, the public’s rating is much higher: from 54% for the previous film, it goes up to 84% of favorable opinions ! Positive word of mouth can help a film achieve better results over the longer term.
But the question remains: with all this, is there a risk that the saga will end here? Many alarmist articles are already announcing the end of beans. With the fourth screenplay not yet in writing and a hiatus announced several months ago, Warner Bros. is she about to bury the saga?
The third film seems to have been written to be able to serve as an end to the saga, even if it leaves many intrigues unresolved. However, other factors must be taken into account. For Warner Bros., the options aren’t just “stop or go” .
First of all, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is part of a larger-scale project, the Wizarding World , which has been hugely lucrative for Warner Bros. and publishers. Through parks, video games, the Hollywood and London Studio Tours, derivative products… producing films helps keep all these peripheral activities alive and, in turn, these allow investment in new movies. The benefits of Dumbledore’s Secrets don’t stop when they hit theaters.
To end the saga abruptly would damage the very image of the Wizarding World and the Harry Potter franchise . It would be an admission of failure. A bad signal for investors on other Magic World projects. It can therefore only be considered as a last resort. As Jeff Goldstein, Director of US Distribution at Warner Bros. explained to The Wrap :
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has always been envisioned as one piece of a larger puzzle, intended to build the Wizarding World . Despite dwindling numbers for The Secrets of Dumbledore , we’re confident the series is fulfilling its role of keeping the wizarding world front and center in the minds of the general public. We are satisfied with the profits made by the franchise in theme parks, shops and other related activities or products.
SO WHAT COULD WARNER BROS. ?
- Shooting Fantastic Beasts 4 and 5 at the same time , like Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and 2 . Such shooting is more intense, but it costs less per film. The budget for the last two Harry Potter films is estimated at $250 million in total, only $50 million more than for The Secrets of Dumbledore .
- Complete the saga with Fantastic Beasts 4 . After all, many fans still don’t know that a pentalogy has been announced . At least it would have a real ending.
- Switch the following film or films directly to its video-on-demand platform, HBO Max , counting on the desire of fans to know the end of the story to push them to create an account.
We will probably have to wait several months before having the end of the story, and knowing what sauce Norbert, Albus and the others are going to be cooked! The success of Hogwarts Legacy , for example, could also play a role; because it is the Wizarding World as a whole in question.
Sources : Mugglenet, Deadline, Variety, boxofficefr, The Wrap, RottenTomatoes 1 & 2