Speed Reads

Not quite spellbinding

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald just had the weakest U.S. debut of the entire Harry Potter franchise

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald's first weekend at the U.S. box office was not especially magical.

The sequel to the Harry Potter prequel took in $62 million domestically this weekend, coming in below its predecessor's 2016 $74 million debut. This is a disappointment, though not a disaster, for Warner Bros., considering estimates had the film pegged at $75 million or more a few days ago. Instead, The Crimes of Grindelwald ended up with the weakest opening weekend of any film in the Harry Potter film franchise. The first Fantastic Beasts held that distinction before, while the lowest opening of the original series was that of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, which debuted at $77 million in 2007, the equivalent of $94 million in 2018 dollars.

The Crimes of Grindelwald performed much better overseas than it did in the U.S., though, taking in $191 million internationally, above the original Fantastic Beasts' international opening of $145 million, so once again a blockbuster's somewhat weak domestic take has been salvaged by its performance elsewhere.

A movie franchise seeing a box office dip in its second outing isn't uncommon, to be fair, and that happened recently with both Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. But considering The Crimes of Grindelwald is even more connected to the original Harry Potter series than its predecessor, featuring both a young Dumbledore and Hogwarts itself, the film had potential to be a much larger hit. Unfortunately, with a Rotten Tomatoes score of just 40 percent and a CinemaScore rating of B+, the lowest of any Harry Potter universe film, it seems director David Yates and writer J.K. Rowling this time are struggling to keep audiences under their spell.