By Ben Spaeth
Photo: The Wrap – Source
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is the latest entry into the wizarding world and the third Fantastic Beasts film. What many may not realize though is that is actually the very last hope for the future of the wizarding world on the big screen. The Harry Potter films have run their course and there’s little interest in rebooting them anytime soon. Pair this with a spinoff franchise plagued with controversies, scandals, and poor box office numbers.
Fantastic Beasts was originally supposed to be a five film series written for the screen by J.K. Rowling. The first movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is loosely based on the book by Rowling of the same name. The original book contains none of the plot from the movies and is supposed to be a textbook written by Eddie Redmayne’s character Newt Scamander. While the book acts as a guide to various mythical creatures in the wizarding world, the movies act as a prequel to the Harry Potter films. They set up how Dumbledore gets the elder wand. This is the area that I believe holds these films back. This is certainly the story Rowling wishes to tell in these movies, but one can’t help but wonder why these weren’t movies centered around Dumbledore. He’s certainly the most interesting of the characters and has the most importance to the franchise. Heck, the latest film is using his name in the title to help draw in crowds. It’s also his story. Dumbledore is the one who eventually defeated Grindelwald. Die hard Harry Potter fans have little attachment to Newt as he was in none of the source material. On top of this, the first film does little to advance the plot of the series in a way that would be meaningful to the Harry Potter films. By this I mean that the film does not advance or add to the Harry Potter lore other than what was already known which was that Grindelwald had the elder wand before Dumbledore. Because of the lack of meaningful changes and progression, many Harry Potter fans will be able to skip these movies and not have lost much. Which is perhaps part of the reason for the recent box office slide. That along with the various scandals.
Warner Bros. is watching the box office data for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore very closely. Fantastic Beasts: Crimes Against Grindelwald was the lowest grossing film of all the movies in the wizarding world and rumors are now swirling that Warner Bros. will end the series with this last installment if it performs poorly at the box office. We’ll likely have more information after this article is published about the future of the franchise, but at the time I’m writing this Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is just beginning its opening weekend. Right now the projections have it grossing $45 million - $50 million which is lower than both of the previous films. The Thursday opening grossed $6 million which is the lowest out of the Fantastic Beasts films. The latest film is also battling critics as the film currently has a 49% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The box office is likely what Warner Bros. will use to determine the fate of Fantastic Beasts, but I’d argue that the series should be ended no matter the box office. The scandals have become what these films are known for. J.K. Rowling is now seen as a divisive figure because of her comments on trans women. Johnny Depp being recast still is looming over the series. Especially now because his trial just started and is open to the press. Along with the strange behavior and arrest of Ezra Miller. In fact, according to Rolling Stone, Warner Bros. had a meeting to determine Miller’s future with the studio following their arrest and erratic behavior on the set of The Flash.
With declining box office numbers and a plethora of scandals, the decision to call it quits on this franchise should be an easy one to make. However, these films continue to make well past their budget in the box office. Unless The Secrets of Dumbledore goes belly up, I doubt Warner Bros. will halt the next two films. Which is a shame because what I think this franchise needs the most is a break. The wizarding world has been in the public eye for 25 years. There needs to be some time to help build up nostalgia for the original material. The market for the wizarding world is currently oversaturated as new content has been consistently coming out since 1997. The audience needs a break. I’m not suggesting that the films should stop forever, but at least give audiences a long enough break to develop nostalgia for the original material. Ideally Warner Bros. would wait until they could safely reboot the franchise for a younger generation that is unaware of the original. I doubt they’ll do that though because of how much money the IP generates.