Like J.K. Rowling continues to expand the "Harry Potter" universe, the generation that grew up watching screen adventures of Boy Who Lived has remained a loyal group.
That was clear from the first weekend of "Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald", the latest installment of the seemingly endless series of sequels, prequels, splits and "Harry Potter" shows. The umpteenth return to the fantasy series launched with $ 62 million in the domestic box office, a considerable and potentially problematic fall of "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them". Like the first installment of "Fantastic Beasts," the audience breakdown was much larger than the films centered around the boy magician wearing glasses.
The lower than expected start shows that beyond the fans, the Magic World has struggled to attract a new wave of Potterheads. Unless the fantastic saga can prove its relevance to younger audiences, Warner Bros. might find that each new installment in the planned five-film franchise represents a case of diminishing returns. And is it strange? After all, "Harry Potter" became a literary sensation for the first time in 1997 when Bill Clinton was president and Donald Trump was still mired in Chapter 11 and reality show stardom, not to mention the White House, nor it was not even a flash in the real thing. Eye of the real estate developer. A whole new generation has reached the age of majority since that moment.
It is a problem that the original films never faced. In fact, what made the eight "Harry Potter" films so magical is that the children were just as interested as their parents to see how the exploits of Harry, Hermione, and Ron would unfold on the big screen. The new saga simply has not had the same universal appeal. Despite the rich mythology that Rowling was able to explore in the splits, the teenagers have not been captivated by the new chapter that follows the magizoologist Newt Scamander, a character played by Eddie Redmayne, whose only connection to the "Harry Potter" films was a virtual irrelevant textbook about, you guessed it, fantastic beasts.
Is is We're talking about "Harry Potter," and that means the Muggles who flocked to the midnight screenings of the first eight movies would see what events would unfold in the prequel series if the new chapters were worthy or not. That became true once again with "Crimes of Grindelwald" since 69% of the viewers were over 25 years old, and only 14% of the audience members were under 18 years old. That is even a little older than the first entry of "Fantastic Animals", where 65% of ticket buyers were over 25 years old and 18% were under 18 years old. In comparison, more than 50% of the crowds for each "Harry Potter" movies were teenagers and minors.
Enthusiasm, at least in North America, has already begun to wane and raises the question of how long these films can withstand without a growing fan base. One study hopes that the long-awaited sequel to one of the greatest franchises of all time will see a stronger opening weekend than its predecessor, or at least one that is roughly in line with the outcome of the first film. On the other hand, "The Crimes of Grindelwald" had a slower start at the domestic box office and could have a hard time keeping up the momentum as a crowded Thanksgiving frame approaches.
It did not help that the follow-up has generated the worst criticism so far for a "Harry Potter" installment. Critics criticized the complicated plot that follows the less established characters and loaded it with a disappointing 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. To measure, "Fantastic beasts and where to find them" averaged 74%, while "Harry Potter" movies fell between a range of 78% and 96%. Even audiences have been less welcoming, giving this film a B + CinemaScore, while the first split generated an A-.
Adding to the feeling of anxiety in Warner's lot is the reality that these movies are only becoming more expensive to do. "The Crimes of Grindelwald" had a high price of $ 200 million, while the first cost $ 175 million. Budgets do not tend to be reduced as a franchise approaches its conclusion.
A common complaint with "Fantastic Beasts" has been that the series of prequels had abandoned the appeal of "Harry Potter" for children. "The fantastic beasts and where to find them" was composed of an almost entirely adult cast, but the title promised a lot of fantastic creatures that could attract teenagers. Instead of amending oversight of future chapters, "Crimes of Grindelwald" makes younger audiences seem more like a last-minute idea when witches and wizards prepare for a full-fledged world war. Maybe the next sequel should include a pre-teen protagonist (maybe one we already met in "Harry Potter") to help Newt?
"When it excludes most of its potential audiences, it's a big problem," said Jeff Bock, an analyst at Exhibitor Relations.
To be fair, "Harry Potter" has always been much more than his home fan base. International crowds have reliably boosted box office receipts, and foreign markets have more than doubled ticket sales for each installment. Abroad, "The Crimes of Grindelwald" debuted with $ 191 million, which represents an advantage over its predecessor. The sequel has performed exceptionally well in Europe compared to the last film of "The Fantastic Beasts" when the gang heads to Paris in an attempt to stop the infamous dark magician Gellert Grindelwald. The first "fantastic beasts" took place in New York.
"All films, including" Harry Potter, "have an international bias," said Ron Sanders, head of global distribution at Warner Bros. "Having the locations abroad represented helps the movies."
There is no doubt that Rowling will release keys and increase bets while continuing to set up a story in which Potter fans, to a large extent, know the outcome. But with three more planned deadlines, Warner Bros. will need more than a little magic for the public to return. At some point, each franchise gets tired. The fact is that two films in "Fantastic Beasts" are beginning to show some signs of fatigue.