Wands are waving, brooms are flying and spells are being cast left and right as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opened in theaters on Thursday night. Many expect the first film in what's expected to be a five-movie series to have a massive opening weekend -- on par with a summer blockbuster. And the Thursday night reported numbers don't disappoint.

The Hollywood Reporter states that David Yates' whimsical Fantastic Beasts has earned an estimated $30 million on Friday, which includes an early haul of $8.75 million on Thursday night previews. If the numbers hold, this means that Fantastic Beasts could bank $75 million or more in its opening weekend in the United States.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

The first movie in this fledgling series is expected to earn even more overseas, however. Some analysts are predicting that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them could have as much as $200 million in Gringotts Bank before the weekend is up.

It's fair, I think, to make comparisons to the Harry Potter films, even though Fantastic Beasts is a prequel (of sorts) that takes place in the wizarding world created by author J.K. Rowling, but has no characters that carry over to this story... yet. If Beasts is able to bring in north of $75 million, that would put it in the Opening Weekend range of the middle Harry Potter films, Order of the Phoenix ($77.1 million opening) and the Half-Blood Prince ($77 million). Those movies pushed their domestic grosses near the $300 million mark, though as is the expectations with Beasts, they made a fortune overseas.

This movie will be a big test for the world of J.K. Rowling. As we have been reporting, the producers (and even director David Yates) have a massive story that they want to tell over the course of four additional movies, that could take a decade to tell and span 19 years of storytelling time. We think it will involve young Dumbledore, and the relationship that he has with Grindelwald (who we met in this first Fantastic Beasts). But in order to justify these next four movies, audiences need to show up. Will the do so this weekend?

We will continue to track the progress of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them this weekend as it rolls out to a larger audience. Do you plan to see it this weekend? Do you plan to check it out in 3D? Read our review before you go.

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