The big question mark around the upcoming Warner Bros. spinoff, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” is how will it stack up against the Harry Potter movies?
Now we have the first peek into how it should play out as early tracking has the debut of the film, based on the works of J.K. Rowling, set at $75 million.
That’s lower than the opening weekends of all other Harry Potter films, but not by much.
The early number is so close to the lowest domestic debuts in the prior series, that it could potentially surpass them — depending on how tracking shifts in the days ahead.
“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” opened to $77.1 million in 2007 and “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” bowed to $77.8 million in 2009.
By comparison, the biggest debut of the past series came in 2011 with “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2,” which grossed $169.2 million on its opening and went on to earn $1.34 billion worldwide to become the eighth highest grossing film of all time, just behind 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” directed by David Yates, will expand from a three-movie franchise to five, author and screenwriter Rowling announced earlier this month.
Set in the same universe as “Harry Potter,” the inaugural “Fantastic Beasts” movie takes place in 1920s New York and stars Eddie Redmayne as a British magizoologist named Newt Scamander who travels across the pond to hunt for magical creatures.
Some characters from the “Harry Potter” films will be featured in the new movie, including Aldus Dumbledore, Grendel and Gellert Grindelwald — though it’s not yet known whether actors from the past series will be reprising their roles.
Other story beats we’ve learned from the upcoming film: Newt arrives in New York as Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) investigates a collapsed building destroyed by a magical creature. The film opens with several newspaper headlines about Grindelwald attacking wizards.
Farrell and Redmayne are joined onscreen by Katherine Waterston, Jon Voight, Ezra Miller, Zoe Kravitz, Samantha Morton, Dan Fogler and Alison Sudol.
Yates directed the last four “Harry Potter” films. The second film in the “Fantastic Beasts” series will be set in another major world city with different magical creatures.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is based on a book of the same name by Rowling, which was a mock textbook about magical creatures. In the “Harry Potter” series, the book is required reading for Hogwarts students.
Tim Lewis is executive producing the new film. Rowling is also serving as a producer, along with Neil Blair, David Heyman, Rick Senat, Steve Kloves, and Lionel Wigram.
“Fantastic Beasts” opens in theaters on Nov. 18.