Box Office: “Fantastic Beasts” opens big, but not Harry Potter big

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The signs aren’t obvious, not with an estimated $73-75 million weekend (maybe slightly less) opening weekend for “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” But maybe audiences were lining up, all those years, to see those adorable English moppets learning about magic, “the dark arts” and coping with villainy. And hormones.

Warner Brothers spent somewhere between $175-200 million on spinning off the Harry Potter at Hogwarts franchise.Hopes were pinned on a “Doctor Strange” sized opening weekend to re-launch the whole wizarding world thing. Reviews were solidly on the positive side, but not rapturous. So this is a bit of a letdown.

Not blowing up internationally, either.

Still, it was enough to drain the life out of “Doctor Strange,” to further disengage the sci-fi/fantasy audience that hasn’t embraced the cerebral “Arrival.”

“Trolls” looks to nudge past “Strange” into second place this weekend, another $17-18 million in the bank before Disney’s far superior “Moana” swallows it whole.

None of the other new openings made anything like that sort of money. “The Edge of Seventeen” will manage barely $6 million, if it has a better Saturday than it did Friday. An R-rated teen flick kind of rules out a lot of teens, insofar as cinemas enforce their own rating rules. If critics were the only judge, upstart studio STX would have a blockbuster on its hands.

And Miles Teller and Aaron Eckhart aren’t enough to sell the boxing picture “Bleed for This,” which won’t hit $3 million on its opening weekend. The only boxers we want to see are named Balboa. Apparently.

“Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” bombed, not cracking the top ten. The indie gay kid growing up on the streets of Miami’s Liberty City, “Moonlight,” did.

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