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Fantastic beasts grabs top spot at box office  

The Harry potter’s film series “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” had no trouble finding first place at the box office this weekend, if not in as magical a fashion as some expected.

The “Harry Potter” spinoff, which stars Eddie Redmayne as a wizard in 1920s New York, collected an estimated $75 million in the U.S. and Canada, a fine opening ahead of a holiday week, when movie-going typically increases.


But “Fantastic Beasts,” based on a screenplay by J.K. Rowling, arrived in theaters under pressure to perform exceptionally well. The movie cost $180 million to produce, and kicks off a five-film series based on the wizarding world for its studio,  Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros.

An opening closer to $90 million would have eased concerns about whether the audience appetite was keen enough to support such an undertaking. On the positive side: An “A” grade from opening-weekend audiences surveyed by the CinemaScore market research firm suggests the film will get strong word-of-mouth.


Overseas, the movie collected an additional $143.3 million. It hasn’t yet opened in China, the world’s second-largest market for movie tickets.

The studio expects the movies to draw in younger crowds as the series progresses, he said, especially since many original “Harry Potter” fans are having children of their own. In other box-office news, “Manchester By the Sea,” a critically acclaimed family drama by director Kenneth Lonergan, collected an impressive $241,000 from four locations in New York and Los Angeles. The movie is being distributed by Roadside Attractions and Amazon Studios, a production division of e-commerce giant Inc. Amazon paid $10 million for distribution rights to the film at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year.