The Uncertain Future of the Fantastic Beasts Franchise: What’s Next?

The Uncertain Future of the Fantastic Beasts Franchise: What’s Next?

A Rocky Start for the Fantastic Beasts Franchise

When the Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was introduced in 2016, it had a strong start, grossing nearly $900 million worldwide. Although not on par with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, which made $965 million worldwide, it was still a promising beginning for the spinoff. The film introduced audiences to Newt Scamander and several core characters from the Harry Potter installments that serve as a prequel to the series. However, the following film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, received the first rotten tomato of the franchise, garnering a poor score of 36% from over 300 critics. The audience was a bit kinder, but not by much, based on the 54% score. More importantly (at least to executives), the box office severely diminished from the previous entry, collecting $654.9 million worldwide.

Fans were just not impressed with the Fantastic Beasts films as they lacked the magic and potent storytelling that made the Harry Potter series so memorable. Plus, outside forces were damaging the brand as well. The author of the respective books, J.K. Rowling, had received her fair share of criticisms on her views about sex and gender. Even more, controversy stirred up before the third feature, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, when Johnny Depp was essentially fired following the allegations of abuse from his ex-wife, Amber Heard. This all stemmed from Depp filing a lawsuit against News Group Newspapers, with The Sun newspaper claiming that the Oscar nominee was a “wife beater”; Depp would lose that battle, and Warner Bros. asked him to re-sign from future installments.

Can Fantastic Beasts Recover from Its Struggles?

Mads Mikkelsen took over the role, but it simply wasn’t enough. Pile on the J.K. Rowling heat from most of Hollywood, including several Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts cast members such as Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and Eddie Redmayne, and the lack of quality from the films, then the third entry was doomed before it premiered on April 15. The Secrets of Dumbledore fared better with critics and audiences, but the film opened with a franchise low of $43 million domestically. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic also played a factor, but because Spider-Man: No Way Home crossed the billion-dollar mark, The Batman made over $700 million by the end of its run, and even Sonic the Hedgehog 2 ranked at No. 1 with over $70 million a week prior, the pandemic wasn’t the main source of Fantastic Beasts problems. Back in 2016, five Fantastic Beasts movies were confirmed; however, Warner Brothers surely didn’t expect one of their top franchises to crash and burn at the box office.

What Lies Ahead for the Fantastic Beasts Franchise?

There’s been no word on what the future lies for Fantastic Beasts. Reportedly, the studio was keeping an eye out on the box office performance of The Secrets of Dumbledore. Because it’s the lowest-grossing film in the Harry Potter franchise, it’s easy to assume that Warner Brothers wasn’t exactly thrilled with its performance. Still, the wizarding world is a gold mine for Warner Brothers. The franchise has grossed over $5 billion based on ticket sales, home video, merchandise, and games. The only guarantee is that the series will somehow return to the big screen. There were some talks about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which follows Harry, Ron, and Hermione as adults tackling a new mystery revolving around Harry’s son, Albus Severus Potter. However, Radcliffe shot down any notion of doing another Potter film with The New York Times:

“This isn’t the answer that anybody’s going to want, but I think I was so able to go back and enjoy it [during the reunion special] because it’s not a part of my day-to-day life anymore,” Radcliffe said. “I’m getting to a point where I feel like I made it out of Potter OK, and I’m really happy with where I am now, and to go back would be such a massive change to my life. I’ll never say never, but the Star Wars guys had like 30 or 40 years before they went back. For me, it’s only been 10. It’s not something I’m really interested in doing right now.”

Luckily, most of the important plot points concluded in The Secrets of Dumbledore. The Blood Pact was broken, Queenie and Kowalski officially tied the knot, and Newt and Tina seemingly refired their romance. The final duel between Dumbledore and Grindelwald didn’t conclude, but fans of the original Harry Potter series know that both men live past their final confrontation. That kills most of the tension surrounding that plot since viewers already know the story’s outcome, but it also gives Warner Brothers an out for continuing the series when there’s little steam behind it.

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