After the Crimes of Grindelwald, it is becoming increasingly clear that Fantastic Beasts 3 will either save or ruin the Wizarding World franchise.
Though complications continue to mount around the film’s pre-production, it is becoming increasingly clear that Fantastic Beasts 3 will either save or ruin the Wizarding World franchise. Although the sequel is not set to arrive in theatres until July of 2022, the recent flurry of activity surrounding the movie has left fans scratching their heads as they consider what is to come of Newt Scamander and his fellow magic-makers.
Set decades prior to the events of the Harry Potter series, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, released in 2016, allowed for Muggles to re-enter J.K. Rowling’s imaginative world with an entirely new story centered around Scamander, the famed magizoologist. The first film, which made oblique references to Albus Dumbledore, was soon revealed to be a Trojan Horse of sorts for a five-film prequel series that would chronicle the events leading up to the Hogwarts Headmaster’s legendary duel with friend-turned-rival Gellert Grindelwald. The aptly-named follow-up, The Crimes of Grindelwald saw the extent of the evil wizard’s influence on the wider Wizarding World and reintroduced a handful of recognizable characters. Yet, the sequel somehow managed to leave much of its audience perplexed and unsatisfied – not only by the events of the film but how it and the next three entries could drastically recontextualize the events of the original series.
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Warner Bros. Pictures and J.K. Rowling (who penned the first two prequels) are coming to a crossroad as they prepare to enter production for their upcoming third installment. With so much on the line and a fandom weighed down by the confusing developments of The Crimes of Grindelwald – as well as several instances of behind-the-scenes drama – Fantastic Beasts 3‘s success (or lack thereof) will either make or break the Wizarding World’s future.
The First Two Fantastic Beasts Movies Haven’t Been As Big As WB Hoped
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was applauded as a satisfying opening chapter to the new series, with solid performances and Rowling’s signature world-building. However, Crimes of Grindelwald was met with far fewer positive responses from audiences and critics alike, thanks in no small part to heavy exposition, an overcrowded cast, and convoluted plotting as major detractors from the overall experience. While Rotten Tomatoes may not always be the best barometer for a film’s overall success, the sequel’s 37% score (the lowest in the franchise by about 40%) points to a markedly different response compared to all other Wizarding World movies.
From a commercial standpoint, both Fantastic Beasts films made their way at the bottom of the list when considering all previous Wizarding World box office returns. While it certainly would have been surprising if Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them had risen to the heights of the original Harry Potter series right out of the gate, executives at Warner Bros. were likely alarmed by The Crimes of Grindelwald‘s considerable box office dip. The second Fantastic Beasts installment earned around $160 million despite its estimated $200 million budget, putting it far below any other film in the series. By comparison, the lowest-earning Harry Potter film (Prisoner of Azkaban) still managed to earn approximately $250 million, perhaps proving that fans may not be as hungry for a prequel series as was originally thought.
Fantastic Beasts 3 Already Has A Lot Of Problems
Fantastic Beasts 3 has inherited several plot holes from Crimes of Grindelwald that will need to be explained or otherwise handled should the canon established in the Harry Potter series continue to remain intact. For example, fans tracking the Elder Wand’s chronology have wondered why it is not in Grindelwald’s possession during the events of Crimes of Grindelwald, especially considering the magical item’s role in Dumbledore’s mythology and his upcoming “duel of legend” with the titular dark wizard. And then there is the film’s cliffhanger in which Grindelwald reveals that Credence is a secret Dumbledore, a revelation which seems out of place considering what is canonically known of Albus’ family tree, as previously outlined by Rowling herself.
The film is also bogged down by considerable baggage from a variety of off-screen antics and controversy. Johnny Depp (who played Grindelwald) was asked by WB to resign from the franchise in the wake of domestic violence allegations and a defeat in court, necessitating a re-casting for his role. Ezra Miller (Credence) also made headlines when a video surfaced online showing him choking a fan. Then there is Rowling herself, whose transphobic comments have come under fire from critics and fans alike. The onslaught of negative press surrounding many of the series’ major players may prove to only further exacerbate what’s already considered a poor box office performance.
Fantastic Beasts 3 Will Make or Break The Wizarding World Franchise
Since the untitled third Fantastic Beasts film will be the mid-point of the series, its creators are reaching a real “boom or bust” moment – a thought seemingly shared by Warner Bros., whose recent actions indicate a desire to drastically shake things up to save the franchise. The film studio’s decision to ask Johnny Depp to exit Fantastic Beasts 3 could not have been made without careful consideration and a wish to avoid additional bad press for a film with an already steep climb ahead of it. Additionally, the astute re-hiring of Steve Kloves as a co-writer may point to a desire to rein in Rowling’s overly-plotted screenwriting. The inclusion of Kloves (a consistent executive producer and screenwriter for all but one of the Harry Potter films) may provide a much-needed steadying hand for a series struggling on a narrative level. His knowledge and experience within the world – as well as his working relationship with Rowling and her work – certainly couldn’t hurt a franchise in desperate need of finding itself.
On a positive note, it is certainly within the realm of possibility that the Fantastic Beasts franchise will have learned some valuable lessons from The Crimes of Grindelwald’s disappointing reception and save itself with an improved third outing. After all, the Wizarding World has precedent when it comes to relatively unsuccessful second entries – Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is often pointed to as one of that series’ less successful titles and that didn’t negate subsequent improvement. However, given the many things stacked against Fantastic Beasts 3 and the franchise’s upcoming installments, the writing may already be on the wall.
Next: Fantastic Beasts: Every Controversy The Harry Potter Spin-Off Has Caused
Key Release Dates
- Fantastic Beasts 3 (2022)Release date: Jul 15, 2022
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