(Fwrd Axis) — “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” flew to the top of the North American box office over the Easter weekend with a $43 million debut, according to studio estimates Sunday.
Despite taking the No. 1 slot, the latest installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise was the lowest-grossing film for an opening weekend. It fell short of 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” ($74 million) and 2018’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald” ($62 million).
The film follows a young Albus Dumbledore and magizoologist Newt Scamander as they lead a team of wizards and witches to stop dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald’s attempt to seize control of the wizarding world.
The film’s underperforming could be due to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s controversial views on the transgender community as well as abuse allegations against actor Johnny Depp, who was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen. Depp has denied any wrongdoing.
“Sonic the Hedgehog 2″ took the second spot with $30 million in the U.S. and Canada, totaling $119.6 million since its debut as of Sunday morning. Michael Bay’s “Ambulance” took the third spot with $4 million and the Mark Wahlberg religious drama “Father Stu” was fourth as it made $8 million since its debut Wednesday.
Movie theatres across the United States have struggled to attract audiences due to the coronavirus pandemic over the past two years. Several theatres in the U.S. and around the world have gotten a boost this year with hits such as “The Batman”, which opened to $128 million and recently crossed the $750 million mark with its debut on HBO Max set for Monday.
“The Batman”, starring Robert Pattinson, was No. 1 in the box office for three weeks with little competition. May will see more seats being filled in theatres with hits Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” (May 6) and Paramount’s “Top Gun: Maverick” (May 27) set to debut.