BO Report: ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’ on top, ‘Ambulance’ crashes

'Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore'. (Photo: Jaap Buitendijk, © 2021 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved)

With Easter just on the horizon and school holidays starting around the country, exhibitors are poised to have a busy few weeks with a variety of family friendly titles already performing well in the market.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore led the weekend, debuting to $5.3 million from 601 screens for Warner Bros. That is the third best opening of the year behind The Batman and Uncharted, and the film captured a 40 per cent overall market share.

However, The Secrets of Dumbledore is still tracking 39 per cent behind 2019’s The Crimes of Grindelward, which bowed to $8.5 million (or $9.4 million with advance screenings). The original, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, opened to $9.8 million.

In the third film, directed by David Yates from a screenplay by J. K. Rowling and Steve Kloves, Jude Law plays Dumbledore, who teams up Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to thwart the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Madds Mikkelson, replacing Johnny Depp).

While yet to open in North America, the film bowed in 22 markets over the weekend and was the no. 1 title internationally. Overall receipts tallied $US58 million, with Australia the fourth highest grossing market behind China, Japan and the UK.

While the film opened below expectation, Majestic Cinemas CEO Kieren Dell tells IF he expects with the holidays, good critical review and word of mouth, it may even have better legs than its predecessors.

“Weeks two and three and may go very close to matching them at the end of the day,” he says.

The weekend’s other major release, Michael Bay actioner Ambulance, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II and Eiza González, proved a disappointment, launching to just $418,892 for Universal from 248 screens.

That was in line with its performance in the US, where it mustered just $US8.7million – the lowest ever opening for a Bay film.

As Dell puts it: “Ambulance was, unfortunately, a bit of a casualty, despite good reviews and feedback.”

Wallis Cinemas national programming manager David Simpson was more damning, stating to IF: “Ambulance was a road traffic accident.”

Ambulance has a reported production budget of $US40 million – small by Bay standards – but pundits predict once marketing costs are factored in, the film is still unlikely to turn profit in the theatrical window.

Last weekend also Icon’s new animated feature Rabbit Academy open, hopping to $99,306 from 205 screens, or $107,063 with previews. The German film is appropriately Easter-themed so may pick up into this weekend.

According to Numero, the top 20 titles tallied $12.8 million, up 2 per cent on the previous.

Together with The Secrets of Dumbledore, exhibitors are enthused by the second weekend performance of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and The Bad Guys as we head into Easter.

Sonic 2 fell only 24 per cent, collecting $2.8 million to bring Paramount’s tally to $7.2 million, while The Bad Guys dropped just 16 per cent with $1.6 million, advancing to $4.4 million for Universal.

The Bad Guys was the standout performer for us – Sonic was expected to perform well and it did, but was often matched at our sites by Bad Guys, despite Sonic being well ahead nationally,” Dell says.

“This augurs well for a great school holidays for both these titles.”

Sony/Marvel’s Morbius took a 69 per cent tumble in its second frame, collecting $947,227, a result that sees it now just shy of $5 million.

Reaching its sixth week, The Batman has collected a haul of $36.2 million after ringing up another $674,655. Globally the film has amassed $US735.1 million, with Australia the third highest grossing territory outside North America, behind the UK and Mexico.

Transmission’s Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren comedy drama The Duke held well into its second frame, dropping 35 per cent to $405,391, and generating $2 million so far.

Globally, RRR has just become the third highest grossing Indian film of all time, having made $US132 million (1,000 crore). In Australia, the Tolly Movies title grossed $172,211 in its third orbit, elevating to $3.4 million.

Roadshow’s Dog is still wagging about the top 10, picking up another $131,786 to move to $3.7 million.