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Why the Fantastic Beasts franchise might be dead

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  • Posted on 17th Nov, 2022 10:45 AM
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With the box office diminishing and offscreen controversies, it looks like the Fantastic Beasts franchise may be dead at Warner Bros.

Harry Potter spinoff/prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them looks to be at an end, with studio Warner Bros. making no plans for a sequel.

The Harry Potter franchise was a huge cash cow for Warner Bros., making billions at the box office, and even more in merchandising.

So it’s no surprise that the studio turned another J.K. Rowling book – Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – into a film franchise.

Three Fantastic Beasts movies have been released thus far, but due to a variety of factors, the series might now be done and dusted, long before making the five films that were originally planned.

What is the current status of the Fantastic Bests franchise?

Regarding a fourth film, Variety states “there’s still no screenplay in existence.” Warner Bros. executives were apparently waiting to see how the third film was received by fans before making any kind of decision.

Since then, there’s been no mention of a sequel, in spite of the fact that the film was telling an overarching story about the battle between Albus Dumbledore and Gellert Grindewald that’s yet to conclude.

On a recent earnings call, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav mentioned the potential to do “something” with Rowling on another story in the Wizarding World franchise going forward – but he didn’t reference the Fantastic Beasts movies.

Why might the franchise be dead?

The most obvious reason for the franchise dying is money. The first film was released in 2016, and made more than $800 million at the global box office. A sequel – The Crimes of Grindewald – came out in 2018 to the tune of $655 million, a drop of about 20%.

Third movie The Secrets of Dumbledore was released in 2022, and grossed $405 million. There were mitigating circumstances, with the world still emerging from the global shutdown. But with a budget of around $200 million – coupled with the huge marketing campaign that followed – it was the first wizarding movie to only just break even theatrically.

Those diminishing returns are the most obvious reason for Fantastic Beasts failing to get a green light.

Offscreen controversies

There have also been controversies regarding the big names involved with the franchise. Johnny Depp’s various court cases with ex-wife Amber Heard saw him replaced by Mads Mikkelsen as Grindewald.

Ezra Miller – who plays Credence Barebone in the movies – has had well-documented run-ins with the authorities, which have given Warner Bros. a headache, both on these films, and the forthcoming Flash movie.

Then there’s J.K. Rowling’s controversial comments about transgender women, all of which complicate making a fourth Fantastic Beasts.

With the huge markets of Russia and China increasingly shutting out foreign fare, Variety says “that makes any $200 million-budgeted tentpole a riskier proposition than ever,” meaning it might be the end of the road for the Fantastic Beasts flicks.

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