'The Secrets Of Dumbledore' Opens At $43M, Weakest Debut For 'Fantastic Beasts' Series

Zinger Key Points
  • "Everything Everywhere All at Once" finds wider audiences.
  • "Father Stu" hits theaters with a weak opening.

There was good news and bad news for the weekend premiere of “Fantastic Beasts: The Secret of Dumbledore.” The good news: the latest installment in the Harry Potter franchise was the top grossing film at the U.S. box office, bringing in $43 million from 4,208 screens.

The bad news: According to Variety, this Warner Bros WBD release is the lowest domestic opening weekend in the “Fantastic Beasts” series, far below the $74 million from the 2016 first entry and the $62 million for its 2018 sequel “The Crimes of Grindelwald.”

What Else Happened: Last week’s top grossing film, “Sonic the Hedgehog 2” from Paramount PARAA was the weekend’s second most popular film, bringing in $30 million from 4,258 theaters. Another Paramount title, “The Lost City,” ranked third with $6.5 million from 3,430 screens.

A24’s sleeper hit “Everything Everywhere All at Once” absorbed $6.1 million from 2,220 screens, making it the rare film among the current releases to see its popularity grow as its distribution expands to additional theaters.

The weekend’s other major nationwide release, Sony Pictures’ SONY “Father Stu,” had a weak opening weekend with $5.6 million from 2,705 theaters. The film, starring Mark Wahlberg and Mel Gibson, had a head-start on the weekend with an April 13 opening, and has grossed $8 million since its arrival in U.S. theaters.

What Happens Next: For the coming weekend, the new films going into nationwide release carry quirky concepts. “The Bad Guys” from Comcast Corporation's CMCSA Universal is an animated crime comedy based on Aaron Babley’s children’s books series, with Sam Rockwell, Marc Maron and Awkwafina voicing the roles of zoomorphic miscreants trying to become model citizens.

“The Northman” from Comcast’s Focus Features is Robert Eggers’ revenge-themed Viking saga with an all-star cast including Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Ethan Hawke, Björk and Willem Dafoe.

“The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent” from Lionsgate (NYSE: LGF-A) is an action comedy film starring Nicolas Cage playing a goofy version of his on-screen persona who winds up in wild situations that mirrored some of his best-loved movies.

Also coming to theaters in limited release is Screen Media Films’ “9 Bullets” with Lena Headley as an ex-burlesque dancer shielding a boy who witnessed his parents’ murder from the mob boss responsible for the deaths; Vertical Entertainment’s “Unplugging” about an unhappy couple (Eva Longoria and Matt Walsh) whose attempt to restart their marriage during a weekend trip doesn’t go exactly as planned; and Good Deed Entertainment’s “Charlotte,” an animated biographical film about the German-Jewish painter Charlotte Salomon who created the innovative series of paintings “Life? or Theater?: A Song-play” before her death in the Holocaust.

What Else Happened: In view of today’s Easter celebrations, it might be interesting to point out that the first case of patent infringement related to a movie involved the Easter story.

In January 1898, a film called “The Passion Play of Oberammergau” had its premiere in New York City. Although it was billed as a filmed record of the celebrated Oberammergau Passion Play, the film was shot on the roof of a Manhattan office building. Despite the chicanery, the film was immediately popular, and its producers received requests to screen it around the country.

However, Thomas Edison took the producers to court by claiming they shot the film with a camera that was created by violating the patent he held for his motion picture camera. The court sided with Edison, who obtained the rights to “The Passion Play of Oberammergau” and the film’s negative.

Edison might have maintained a stranglehold on film production had it not been for a 1902 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled that Edison only owned rights to the sprocket system that moved perforated film through the camera and not the complete concept of the motion picture camera.

As for “The Passion Play of Oberammergau,” only a fragment of the film survived and that is preserved at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York (see photograph below); no copies of the 20-minute full version of the film are known to exist.

Photos: Top photo of Mads Mikkelsen from "Fantastic Beasts: The Secret of Dumbledore," courtesy of Warner Bros; photo from "The Passion Play of Oberammergau" courtesy of "Jesus Christ Movie Star," published by BearManor Media.

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Posted In: EntertainmentNewsGeneralbox officeFantastic Beasts: The Secrets of DumbledoreHarry PotterMark WahlbergmoviesThomas Edison
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