Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: Smash Hit

Warner’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has launched strongly with $8.8 million in Thursday night preview showings in North America

The Harry Potter spinoff, starring Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, has been forecast to bring in at least $75 million at 4,144 locations this weekend.

Fantastic Beasts, written by Potter author J.K. Rowling, cost $180 million to make.

The tale follows Scamander as he tries to retrieve magical creatures that have escaped from his valise and are running wild through 1926 New York City.

The cast includes Colin Farrell, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, and Samantha Morton.

David Yates, who directed the last four Harry Potter movies, is helming.

Fantastic Beasts is getting mixed to positive reviews, right now generating decent critical support with a 74% “fresh” rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Eddie Redmayne Fantastic Beasts

Warner launched the final Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 five years ago. The finale opened with a $169.1 million weekend in the U.S. and finished with $381 million domestically and $1.34 billion worldwide.

Fantastic Beasts opened in nine international markets on Wednesday with $6.9 million, then added 38 markets on Thursday for another $16.6 million, and another 16 on Friday, including the U.K. and Mexico. Warner and Rowling announced in mid-October that there will be four more films.