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‘Fantastic Beasts’ Sequel Conjures $9.1 Million at Thursday Box Office

Harry Potter spinoff opens against ”Widows“ and ”Instant Family“ also in wide release

“Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” Warner Bros.’ second film in the spinoff from the Harry Potter movies, earned $9.1 million at the box office from Thursday previews. It will open on over 4,000 screens this weekend.

The sequel is currently projected to open in the high $60 million range, with estimates topping out at $73 million from independent trackers, but it beat the Thursday total of the first film, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” from 2016, which earned $8.75 million in Thursday previews on its way to earning $74.4 million in its opening weekend.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling wrote the original story that’s part of a five-film prequel in the magical universe. Eddie Redmayne stars alongside Katherine Waterston, Jude Law and Johnny Depp as the film’s villain. “The Crimes of Grindelwald” has just a 49 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, so — unlike the original film — it will be working to overcome tepid reviews.

Both Paramount’s “Instant Family,” starring Mark Wahlberg, and Fox’s thriller “Widows,” starring Viola Davis, are also opening wide this weekend.

“Instant Family” brought in $550,000 on Thursday night. Paramount is projecting an opening in the mid-teens to as high as $20 million when it opens on approximately 3,258 screens domestically. Comparatively, Wahlberg’s “Daddy’s Home 2,” which also opened in early November last year, earned $1.5 million in Thursday previews and would open to $29.6 million.

In the family comedy starring Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne and directed by Sean Anders, the two play a couple of new parents of three adopted children. The film has a 70 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

“Widows” earned just $600,000 on its Thursday night open from 2,200 locations. Fox’s film is looking at an opening in the mid-teens, which is perhaps low for a movie with both a $40 million budget and awards aspirations. But it does boast a 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and an A-list cast that includes Viola Davis, Liam Neeson, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Colin Farrell and Robert Duvall.

“Widows” is about a group of women who plot a heist after their husbands are all killed in a job gone wrong. The film comes from “12 Years a Slave” director Steve McQueen and “Gone Girl” writer Gillian Flynn, who penned the screenplay. In comparison, the film adaptation of her book “Gone Girl” earned $2.1 million on its Thursday opening night ahead of a $37 million opening weekend back in 2014.