‘Fantastic Beasts’: Fourth and Fifth Movies in Limbo


“Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” a $200 million budget sequel to the “Harry Potter” spin-off series, is an anomaly in JK Rowling’s Wizarding World. With just $405 million at the global box office, it’s the first film in the blockbuster franchise – of 11 – to barely break even in its theatrical run.

The reality that “Fantastic Beasts” is experiencing diminishing returns after three films is especially painful not only for Rowling, who envisioned the prequel story as a five-film franchise, but also for its backer Warner Bros., who bet on the assumption that anything Hogwarts related would remain relevant at the box office – whether or not Harry, Ron, and Hermione were involved in the adventures unfolding onscreen.

Yet that has not been the case. While the second installment, 2018’s “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” didn’t quite sputter with $654 million at the global box office, the rocky performance set the future of Newt Scamander – the protagonist played by Eddie Redmayne – and company in ask. Ticket sales fell 20% from 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which grossed more than $800 million worldwide.

There was no screenplay for the fourth or fifth entry yet in April 2022, when the third film ‘Fantastic Beasts’ hit theaters. Executives at Warner Bros. waited for the reception of ‘The Secrets of Dumbledore’ before pumping resources into the final chapters of the magical saga. Unlike the original eight-film “Potter” franchise, which was adapted from a rich series of novels, Rowling only has thin source material for “Fantastic Beasts.” So while the spin-off story was headed for the all-out wizard war waged between beloved Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore and the Voldemort-esque Gellert Grindelwald (you don’t have to be a fan of “Harry Potter” to know how the battle ends), Rowling and Steve Kloves – who co-wrote “The Secrets of Dumbledore” – have no clearly established blueprint for reaching the big conclusion.

Months later, Warner Bros. not prioritizing another chapter in the “Fantastic Beasts” universe. With “Dune” and “Wonder Woman 1984,” two recent tentpoles from Warner Bros., the studio waited just a few days after those movies were released to announce plans for sequels. So the curious silence in another chapter of “Fantastic Beasts” isn’t exactly encouraging. However, it’s worth noting that “The Secrets of Dumbledore” opened around the same time that the Warner Bros. Motion Pictures group was going through a regime change, one that saw the departure of chief Toby Emmerich and the rise of former MGM movie presidents Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy.

Warner Bros., as well as representatives for Rowling, declined to comment.

Unless the “Fantastic Beasts” film team manages to get cameras rolling in the next six months – which seems unlikely given that a screenplay still doesn’t exist – the fourth film would not be released until 2025 at the earliest. There was a longer gap between the second and third films, which came out four years apart, but the ‘Harry Potter’ fandom isn’t getting any younger. That’s a problem, especially since the spin-off stories don’t appeal to new muggles, as evidenced by the declining ticket sales for subsequent installments.

There is also less incentive to put time, energy and money into the already struggling series as Rowling has become increasingly controversial for her repeated comments against transgender women. The studio is clear it doesn’t want out of the billion-dollar relationship, but heightened sensitivity around the controversial author means Warners will be selective about projects it needs to promote.

And it’s not like the cinema landscape has been forgiving in the COVID era. Even critically acclaimed, big-budget blockbusters have not generated the kind of coins they were expected to make in pre-pandemic times, as China and Russia, two major movie markets, have almost completely closed off to Hollywood movies. That makes any tentpole with a $200 million budget riskier than ever.

David Zaslav, CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery, alluded to a recent phone conversation about the possibility of doing “something” with Rowling about another story in the Wizarding World franchise “in the future.” However, he stopped at specific details. An obvious choice would be to go to the “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” show, which starts right after the epilogue in “Deathly Hallows” and revolves around Harry, Ron, Hermione and their children. Adding to potential fervor: It’s not out of the realm of possibility to ask the original cast to reprise their roles. Warner Bros. is an investor in the Tony-winning play, but Rowling owns the rights to “Cursed Child,” so the big-screen version requires the author’s approval.

Given the lackluster reception of the three existing films, it’s perhaps not surprising that Warner Bros. has not yet said definitively whether the fourth and fifth ‘Fantastic Beasts’ films will be completed as intended. But the state of limbo is still unexpected, as “Harry Potter” has been positioned as one of two flagship franchises (DC Comics being the other) to support Warner Bros.’ feature film strategy. the cash register.

Presumably, this means the company has little choice but to pay excessive attention to DC Studios, which is newly led by filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran. But DC’s movie output doesn’t match the consistency or popularity of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. The idea, of course, is that Gunn and Safran will right the ship. Realistically, however, it can take years to build a successful superhero story lineup.

In the meantime, it might take a little more than magic – and a lot of Liquid Luck – to find an enchanting way to revive the Potterverse on the big screen.

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voicehttp://thevalleyvoice.org
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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