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'Fantastic Beasts' makes more than $500 million: As good as 'Potter'?

The 'Harry Potter' spin-off movie 'Fantastic' has now grossed more than $500 million worldwide. The film stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, and Alison Sudol.

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    'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them' stars Eddie Redmayne (r.) and Colin Farrell (l.).
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The “Harry Potter” spin-off film “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” has grossed more than $500 million worldwide after being released in mid-November. 

“Fantastic,” which takes place in the world of the successful “Harry Potter” series but is set decades earlier, stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander, an expert on magical creatures who travels to New York. The movie co-stars Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, and Alison Sudol. 

The movie was released on Nov. 18 and placed second at the domestic box office over Thanksgiving weekend, coming in behind the Disney animated movie “Moana.” “Fantastic” took in about $65 million domestically over the five-day weekend.

Hollywood Reporter writer Gregg Kilday found its second-week performance impressive, writing that the movie’s “three-day haul dropp[ed] by just 39.4 percent to $45.1 million.”

With its roots in the fictional world created by J.K. Rowling, the box office results for “Fantastic” are inevitably compared to those of the “Harry Potter” films. How does “Fantastic” compare so far? 

The highest-grossing “Potter” movie was the last one, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” which was released in 2011.

“Hallows” did reach the $500 million mark faster than “Fantastic,” with “Hallows” hitting the number on its sixth day of release. By comparison, it took “Fantastic,” which officially achieved that on Nov. 29, 11 days to do so. 

But “Fantastic” is still doing well financially. “The movie is bringing in big dollars at the box office and has passed a major milestone,” Movieweb writer Ryan Scott wrote of the news that “Fantastic” has achieved $500 million so far. 

And Deadline writers Anthony D’Alessandro and Nancy Tartaglione wrote of the movie’s box office performance in comparison to “Potter” that “Potter” had incredibly popular source material on which to draw. “Fantastic,” by comparison, is based on characters that are unknown to audiences. 

“The lower-than-‘Potter’-projected opening for ‘Fantastic Beasts’ can also be attributed to the fact that the pic isn’t based on a multi-global bestselling book series,” Mr. D’Alessandro and Ms. Tartaglione wrote prior to the movie’s release.

Beasts received good reviews from critics too. It's got a 71 percent "Fresh" score among top critics on Rotten Tomatoes. But The Christian Science Monitor's film critic Peter Ranier wasn't particularly effusive with his praise.  

Rowling has a voluminous imagination and Yates keeps things humming along, although, as was also true of many “Potter” movies, there is often too much of a good thing. But the film is fine enough to make you forgive, if not forget, the fact that it exists primarily as a corporate enterprise and not as an imaginative tour de force. Grade: B

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