Eyebrows were raised when it was first announced that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a 128-page fictional textbook originally written to raise money for charity, would be the subject of five blockbuster movies designed to expand the Harry Potter universe via a quintet of prequels that unfolded decades before The Boy Who Lived was even a twinkle in his grandparents’ eyes.
The first installment was a solid and entertaining enough adventure, but it’s been downhill from there. The Crimes of Grindelwald delivered the worst critical and commercial performance the franchise had ever seen, before Johnny Depp being dropped as the titular villain drew widespread backlash, sapping a ton of enthusiasm and momentum out of the property’s sails.
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Last week, it was confirmed that the third installment would be known as The Secrets of Dumbledore, and as per ScreenRant, that’s an admission of failure. We’re only 40% of the way through the story, and the focus already appears to be getting shifted away from Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander onto characters and locations best known from Harry Potter that still hold some cache and goodwill among audiences.
From the studio’s standpoint, you can understand why Fantastic Beasts would use an iconic character like Dumbledore as a crutch to keep the series on life support. However, it was designed as Newt’s story first and foremost, and it already looks like he’s being shunted to the sidelines. We saw a very similar thing happen with Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker after The Last Jedi backlash, and that hardly proved to be any less polarizing.