The newest entry in the Harry Potter franchise was released this month, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, directed by David Yates. Concerns have surrounded the film, with some questioning if it might be the last Fantastic Beasts movie to be released as the film and the Fantastic Beasts franchise have been embroiled in controversy. Let’s unpack the facts, and the speculation surrounding a possible fourth entry in the Fantastic Beasts franchise.
The Fantastic Beasts franchise was originally plotted out for five movies, which was planned when the first film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, was in production. A number of events have occurred since then that make the five-film deal all the more unlikely. As of yet, it seems a screenplay for a fourth film has not been written, as executives are likely waiting to see how well of a box office Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore manages to pull in.
But why is it that one of the most successful Hollywood franchises, Harry Potter, is not automatically getting another installment?
The critical and audience reception for the first films have been worse than they were for the Harry Potter films, although Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore does attempt to fix some of the problems of its predecessors. For Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the budget was somewhere between $175 million and $200 million, while it successfully earned over $800 million.
For some context, the only Harry Potter film that the first Fantastic Beasts film managed to beat at the box office was Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, which made $797.4 million. The second Fantastic Beasts film also cost $200 million to make, but it only made $654.9 million at the box office. This does not seem like a failure but is more than half of what the most successful Harry Potter film made, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, which made over $1.3 billion.
The newest film Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, at the time of writing this, has made $193 million worldwide while costing $200 million. It opened domestically to $43 million, coming in at roughly $20 million less than its predecessor, making it the worst opening for the series. This is most likely the main reason why the fourth and fifth films are as of now up in the air. But the critical and audience reception might not be the only culprit for the downfall of the franchise.
J.K. Rowling has a history of causing controversy with her tweets, many of which her critics and her fans have deemed transphobic. While many of the cast of both Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts have disavowed her comments, disagreeing with her views, many fans had vowed to boycott the franchise, which includes Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and the upcoming game developed by Avalanche Software, Hogwarts Legacy.
It is possible and even likely that this third film has taken a hit at the box office because of outraged fans who want to show their support for the trans community, by not seeing the film.
But that is not the only controversy to trouble the film. Fans of Johnny Depp, who played Gellert Grindelwald in the previous two films and was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, also threatened to boycott the new film. Johnny Depp was replaced because of his public trouble with his ex-wife Amber Heard, with allegations of spousal abuse and legal proceedings surrounding him.
But that’s still not all. Ezra Miller, who plays Credence Barebone in the Fantastic Beasts franchise was recently arrested for disorderly conduct and fans called for his removal from the franchise. This isn’t even the first time something like this has happened with a video revealing Miller choked a fan in April of 2020.
There was a rumor which started after the actor was arrested, that Warner Bros. was discussing getting rid of Miller from their projects including the upcoming Flash film. While this might be untrue, an arrest does not bode well for the actor, making his situation the third controversy to surround the franchise.
While these issues may have caused the franchise to suffer monetarily, the producers of the film may just leave it with this film and cut their losses, simply because of the controversies the franchise is embroiled in. There are even arguments being made that Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore wrapped up the plotlines in the series quite nicely and a fourth film might only ruin what was a good ending. However, the third film did introduce some new storylines while leaving some of the plot unresolved, leaving some room for another adventure.
There are plot points in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore which could be explored in a sequel. Firstly, Grindelwald isn’t captured at the end of the film, and hardcore Harry Potter fans might want to see the epic duel between Dumbledore and Grindewald that ended with Grindelwald’s imprisonment. Secondly, Tina Goldstein was barely in the third film, only appearing in a scene at the end and with small cutaways throughout. Tina and Newt Scamander were the driving force behind the first two films and it might be unfortunate if their story is left unresolved.
If there is a fourth Fantastic Beasts movie, you have to wonder what it would be called. All of the films in the series are named after what happens in the movie, much like the main Harry Potter series. The first was Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the second Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and the third and most recent was called Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. One has to wonder if the fourth movie might be named after a MacGuffin introduced in the film or whether they might just call it, Fantastic Beasts: The Second World War. Or even maybe naming it after the war Grindelwald wages on Europe whatever they may call it as we already know Voldemort’s first war was called the First Wizarding War, so that name is taken.
Either way, the status of Fantastic Beasts 4 is currently up in the air, with the previously planned fifth film looking even more unlikely with each passing day. We will have to wait a bit longer to see if Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is deemed successful. It might be a while before we get official confirmation on whether or not the Fantastic Beasts story will continue.