'Fantastic Beasts 2' Opening Night Box Office Beats Original

Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald opened for its Thursday night previews and, while the reviews aren't as strong as its predecessor's, it has surpassed the 2016 film preview box office. Crimes of Grindelwald opened to $9.1 million, barely besting the original film's $8.7 million opening numbers.

J.K. Rowling wrote the screenplay for the film, which opens in 1927, a few months after Newt helped to unveil and capture the infamous Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. However, as he promised he would, Grindelwald has made a dramatic escape and has been gathering more followers to his cause—elevating wizards above all non-magical beings. The only one who might be able to stop him is the wizard he once called his dearest friend, Albus Dumbledore. But Dumbledore will need help from the wizard who had thwarted Grindelwald once before, his former student Newt Scamander. The adventure reunites Newt with Tina, Queenie, and Jacob, but his mission will also test their loyalties as they face new perils in an increasingly dangerous and divided wizarding world.

Earlier this week, Variety reported that Crimes of Grindelwald was tracking to open to $250 million worldwide, which would best the previous film's $220 million. These numbers would seemingly reflect some apprehension from fans to check out a film in the Wizarding World that didn't feature Harry Potter, with the stronger numbers of this film seemingly confirming those apprehensions had been quelled.

The latest entry in the Wizarding World franchise has had its work cut out for it in winning over fans, as the previous film revealed that Johnny Depp would be playing the titular Grindelwald. Shortly after that film's release, Depp's then-wife Amber Heard made domestic abuse allegations in a lawsuit that was eventually settled out of court. Some fans had been hoping Depp wouldn't be involved in the sequels, given these allegations, with the studio and even Rowling herself failing to give an explanation that appeased those fans.

"I’ll be honest with you, I felt bad for J.K. having to field all these various feelings from people out there. I felt bad that she had to take that. But ultimately, there is real controversy. The fact remains I was falsely accused, which is why I’m suing the Sun newspaper for defamation for repeating false accusations," Depp shared with Entertainment Weekly earlier this year. "J.K. has seen the evidence and therefore knows I was falsely accused, and that’s why she has publicly supported me. She doesn’t take things lightly. She would not stand up if she didn’t know the truth. So that’s really it."

Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald is in theaters now.

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[H/T Twitter, ERCboxoffice]