Some of the TPI regulars have envisioned the possibility of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando expanding into the world of Newt Scamander and Fantastic Beasts. At first glance, it would seem like a logical decision. The theme park cash cow that is the Harry Potter franchise has been the gift that keeps the turnstiles spinning.
But the lackluster box office opening of the latest effort in the cinematic Potterverse (“The Crimes of Grindelwald”) may be reason enough to take a second look at both theme park viability of the Fantastic Beasts franchise as well as the longevity of the Potter IP. Indeed, weekend number two is likely to fare much worse -- especially with the arrival of Ralph and Vanellope
In a November 19th piece for ‘Variety’, online editor Rebecca Rubin explores the question “Can ‘Fantastic Beasts’ survive without enchanting audiences.” The article explores whether or not the franchise can carry on in movie theaters, let alone theme parks.
Referencing the “seemingly endless array of ‘Harry Potter’ sequels, prequels, spinoffs and stage shows” Ms. Rubin notes, “The umpteenth return to the fantasy series launched with $62 million at the domestic box office, a sizable and potentially problematic drop from ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’.”
Certainly some of the disappointment from the opening weekend was due to less-than-enthusiastic reviews (Rotten Tomatoes 40% -- Ouch!). And, to be fair, overseas receipts pushed the revenue up over $250 million. But Ms. Rubin noted another consideration – specifically regarding exactly who showed up to see the flick and why.
From the article: “Like the first ‘Fantastic Beasts’ installment, the audience breakdown was much older than the movies centering around the bespectacled boy wizard.”
She continues: “…69% of moviegoers were over the age of 25, and only 14% of audience members were under 18 years old. That’s even slightly older than the first “Fantastic Beasts” entry, where 65% of ticket buyers were older than 25 years old and 18% were under the age of 18. For comparison, well over 50% of crowds for every “Harry Potter” movie were teens and younger.”
She continues: “Enthusiasm, in North America at least, has already started to dwindle and it’s worth questioning how long these movies can endure without a growing fanbase.”
Please keep in mind, these are not the standard, annoying opinions of THC. This premise was raised by Ms. Rubin.
Of course, last August (Blogflume titled “Universal Orlando gets social with new Harry Potter special event.”) the aforementioned TPI in-house pest posed the question “Is there really a substantial number of kids born after 1995 who have any interest in investing themselves into the Potter universe?”
Again, that thought was posed as a question.
Further on in that thread I noted: “The millions of 14 year olds who picked up ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ in 1997 are now 35 years old. Is there another generation of 14 year olds who are now discovering the Potter books and are willing to crawl through seven volumes of literature?”
Ditto on the “posed as a question” thing.
Again, (returning to the first paragraph of this screed) there are some TPIers who have imagined that the world of Fantastic Beasts might find a footprint in the next theme park UO opens in Orlando. I’m wondering if such a concept can have the gate-crasher impact that the current Potter attractions have had. Especially since there’s no longer a guarantee that all five of the planned Beast flicks will even make it to theaters – maintaining the visibility of the franchise. Again from the Variety article: “A studio hopes that the highly anticipated sequel from one of the biggest franchises of all time should see a stronger opening weekend than its predecessor, or at least one that’s roughly in line with the first film’s result. Instead, “The Crimes of Grindelwald” got off to a slower start at the domestic box office and might struggle to keep momentum going as a crowded Thanksgiving frame nears.”
It continues: “Adding to the sense of anxiety on the Warners lot is the reality that these movies are only getting more expensive to make. “The Crimes of Grindelwald” carried a hefty $200 million price tag, meanwhile the first one cost $175 million. Budgets don’t tend to shrink as a franchise nears its conclusion.”
Just like filmmaking, construction costs continue to rise. In light of this, it seems reasonable to ask the question: What are the indicators that would lead someone to conclude that the Fantastic Beasts franchise represents an especially promising theme park IP? Or to put it another way, if you were running UO, would you place a quarter of a billion dollar bet on the long term success of attractions related to Newt Scamander?Tweet
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