The fourth Fantastic Beasts movie is up in the air, as it looks like the Harry Potter spin-off series could be in doubt
As the lowest-grossing movie in the franchise’s history, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was also critically panned
Warner Bros. will still expand the IP, and wants to work with J.K. Rowling on other stories
Whether a TV series, Cursed Child movie, or something completely different, find out what’s next for the Wizarding World
There’s a dark mark in the sky above the Wizarding World, as it looks like David Yates’ Fantastic Beasts series could be dead in the water at Warner Bros. thanks to diminishing critical and commercial success. Despite starting strong in 2016, the Fantastic Beasts name has struggled to top the original.
Still, don’t think that this is the end of the studio’s Potterverse.
What’s happened to the Fantastic Beasts series?
Whereas the Harry Potter movies had seven books of best-selling source material, critics called out Fantastic Beasts’ grand plans for a five-movie arc simply based on a textbook, written for charity, from 2001.
More than this, there was no way of knowing how they’d fare at the box office. It’s true that the Marvel Cinematic Universe plans years ahead with its slates, but it’s the world’s highest-grossing franchise for a reason. Fantastic Beasts faces similar franchise fatigue to Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean — which recently confirmed its Margot Robbie-led reboot has cast been cast adrift.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was a box office smash, making $814.4 million off a budget of $175 million. The costs rose for 2018’s The Crimes of Grindelwald, but it still made nearly $655. Unfortunately, 2022’s The Secrets of Dumbledore matched Crimes’ $200 million budget but brought in just $405 million.
Watch a clip from Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Dumbledore
If that wasn’t bad enough, The Secrets of Dumbledore has a measly 46% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, while Crimes of Grindelwald’s 36% means the two movies are the only rotten-rated outings in the Wizarding World film series.
There have been behind-the-scenes dramas with both the Fantastic Beasts movies and the wider franchise. Johnny Depp was famously let go as Gellert Grindelwald to be replaced by Mads Mikkelsen for The Secrets of Dumbledore. Away from this, there’s been a backlash against J.K. Rowling for her controversial comments about the transgender community.
In November 2022, Variety reported that the planned fourth Fantastic Beasts movie is in limbo, with nothing in the Wizarding World in active development. Considering Wonder Woman 1984 and Dune were given sequels almost immediately, Fantastic Beasts has faded into the background.
Warner Bros. has been on the rampage recently, axing movies ranging from James Wan’s Aquaman spin-off to the public shelving of Batgirl even after it was filmed and ready to hit screens. It’ll take more than the legacy of the Boy Who Lived and a desire to finish the story of Dumbledore and Grindelwald to save this struggling series.
The Wizarding World lives on
While Fantastic Beasts could be banished to the Forbidden Forest, rest assured that the rest of the Wizarding World is ready to hop in its broomsticks. In the same article that condemned Fantastic Beasts, Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav hyped the importance of franchises and reiterated that there hasn’t been a Harry Potter movie in over 15 years. Then again, with the story coming to a natural end like the books, others have questioned the need to see the bespectacled hero’s return.
Zaslav’s musings about doing 'something with J.K' doesn’t confirm whether this is to rescue Fantastic Beasts, a brand-new movie, or a small-screen continuation. The author has become a controversial figure, which has led to some threatening to boycott the Hogwarts Legacy video game due out in 2023. Either way, Zaslav’s words suggest WB is standing with her. One way to bring back the Wizarding World would be a live-action adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which would require the cooperation of Rowling.
Set after the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Cursed Child is a stage production that continues with Harry, Ron, and Hermione, but also focuses on their children. Bringing back the legacy actors is all well and good, but it’s not that simple. Original Harry Potter director Chris Columbus has thrown his weight behind a cinematic version of The Cursed Child and described it as “cinematic bliss” if we could lure back Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint.
The big one would undoubtedly be Radcliffe, but Harry Potter himself remains sceptical. In 2021, Radcliffe said he’d return but would want to play a different character like Sirius Black or Remus Lupin. In March 2022, he seemingly dashed hopes of a live-action Cursed Child and explained, “I’m never going to say never. The Star Wars guys had like 30, 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.”
Across the board, the stars have largely said 'leave it be' regarding a revival. Grint said he 'can’t really imagine' returning to play Ron Weasley, and even if you can get any number of them to reprise their roles, the core three would all need to agree together. It seems unlikely, especially as Radcliffe said it was 'really important' to speak out against Rowling's comments.
Grint and Watson have previously defended the trans community, while the latter seemingly made a jab at Rowling earlier this year.
Where does Harry Potter go next?
In a world where streaming services reign supreme, a live-action Harry Potter series would be one way to cash in on the IP’s continued popularity. HBO Max has its Welcome to Derry series, and just like The Lord of the Rings lives on in Amazon’s The Rings of Power, there is any number of Potterverse stories that are sure to pull in the viewers. Prequels would be an easy sell, and it just so happens Ralph Fiennes said there was 'no question' about his willingness to play Lord Voldemort again. A Tom Riddle origin story could flesh out one of the most iconic villains of all time.
Back before Fantastic Beasts, Rowling said Warner Bros. weighed up that idea of a movie version of Quidditch Through the Ages, and with viewers moaning there was a lack of Quidditch in the Harry Potter movies, it's an avenue to explore. Hogwarts Legacy has already gone down the prequel route with a story set in the 1890s. Although this writes out most of the characters we know, there are theories a young Albert Dumbledore could appear as a student. Fans have also asked to see more of other schools like Beauxbatons and Durmstrang, a tour around the globe doesn’t have to stop just because Fantastic Beasts might.
Even if Fantastic Beasts’ diminishing profits put it in the danger zone, it could also round off the story with one last movie or a TV series. Part of the magic was the creatures themselves, and while the sequels seemed to forget that, there are sure to be legions who’d love to see more of Newt Scamander’s suitcase if Yates can return to these core ideals.
Read more: How much do you know about Harry Potter?
For the time being, though, the mythical Fantastic Beasts continuation is hiding under a Cloak of Invisibility. It sounds like those at the top are brewing something up in the Potions class, but just don’t expect it to be a full theatrical return for Fantastic Beasts.
The Harry Potter and first two Fantastic Beasts films are available to stream on NOW with a Sky Cinema Membership.