“Fantastic Beasts: The Secret of Dumbledore,” the $200 million budget sequel to the “Harry Potter” spin-off series, is a twist on JK Rowling’s wizarding world. With just $405 million at the global box office, it’s the first film in the blockbuster franchise — out of 11 — to barely break even. In his own theater.
The fact that “Fantastic Beasts” is experiencing diminishing returns after three films is particularly painful, not only for Rowling, who envisioned the prequel story as a five-film franchise, but also for its backer Warner Bros. , which has a big bet on this assumption. That all things Hogwarts will remain relevant at the box office – were Harry, Ron and Hermione involved in the adventures that appear on the screen.
It has not happened yet. Although 2018’s second installment, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” didn’t top the box office worldwide by grossing $654 million, its stellar performance helped Newt Alexander’s future—the The Eddie Redmayne-starrer – and company question – ticket sales fell 20% compared to 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which grossed more than $800 million worldwide.
There was still no screenplay for a fourth or fifth entry in April 2022, when the third “Fantastic Beasts” movie opened in theaters. Executives at Warner Bros. are waiting to see the reception toward “Dumbledore’s Secret” before pumping resources into the final chapters of the wizarding saga. Unlike the original eight-film “Potter” franchise, which was made up of a rich, out-of-the-way novel, Rowling has only weak source material for “Fantastic Beasts.” So, even though the spin-off story was leading up to a full-scale wizarding war between the beloved Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore and the Voldemort-esque Gellert Grindelwald (you don’t have to be a “Harry Potter” fan to know that war How. The End), Rowling and Steve Close — who co-wrote “Dumbledore’s Secrets” — don’t have a clearly established roadmap to the big conclusion.
Months later, Warner Bros. doesn’t seem to be prioritizing another chapter in the “Fantastic Beasts” universe. With “Dune” and “Wonder Woman 1984,” the two latest Warner Bros. tentpoles, the studio announced plans for sequels just days after those films were released. So, the awkward silence about another “Fantastic Beasts” chapter isn’t really encouraging. It’s worth noting, though, that “Dumbledore’s Secret” opened at the same time that Warner Bros. Motion Pictures Group was completing a regime change, one that saw the departure of chief Tobe Emmerich and former MGM film Directors saw the rise to Michael Day. Luca and Pamela Abdi.
Warner Bros., as well as representatives for Rowling, declined to comment.
Unless the “Fantastic Beasts” filmmaking team manages to get the cameras rolling in the next six months — and that’s unlikely because there’s no screenplay yet — the fourth film won’t be released until 2025 at the earliest. There was a long gap between the second and third films, which came out four years apart, but the love of “Harry Potter” is not getting any younger. This is a problem, especially since spin-off stories do not appeal to new moguls, as evidenced by lower and lower ticket sales for subsequent episodes.
There’s also little incentive to invest time, energy, and money in an old fight series because, well, Rowling has become increasingly controversial for her repeated comments against gay women. The studio has made it clear it doesn’t want a billion-dollar relationship, but the heightened sensitivity surrounding the controversial writer means Warner will be picky about the projects she needs to promote.
And it’s not like the movie theater landscape has been spared in the COVID era. Even acclaimed big-budget blockbusters have failed to generate the kind of coin they were expected to generate in pre-pandemic times, as China and Russia, the film’s two biggest markets, are almost entirely dominated by Hollywood films. are dependent on This $200 million budget tentacles suggest more dangerous than ever.
Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav hinted at a recent earnings call about the possibility of doing “something” with Rowling on another story in the Wizarding World franchise. However, he declined to elaborate. An obvious choice would be to turn to the stage show “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which picks up directly after the epilogue in “Deathly Hallows” and centers on Harry, Ron, Hermione and their children. Adding to the potential excitement: It’s not out of the realm of possibility to ask the original cast to reprise their roles. Warner Bros. is an investor in the Tony-winning play, but Rowling owns the rights to “Cursed Child,” so a big-screen version needs the author’s approval.
Given the lackluster reception to the three films in existence, it may come as no surprise that Warner Bros. has yet to say exactly whether the fourth and fifth “Fantastic Beasts” films will live up to the target. be completed But the limbo situation is still unexpected considering that “Harry Potter” is positioned as one of two flagship franchises (DC Comics is the other) to advance Warner Bros.’s feature film strategy at such a time. Big budget properties dominate at the highest level. Box office
Presumably, this means the company has little choice but to devote significant attention to DC Studios, which is newly led by filmmaker James Gunn and producer Peter Safran. But DC’s film output has not matched the consistency or popularity of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, the idea is that Goon and Safran will right the ship. In reality, though, it takes years to build a successful slate of superhero stories.
In the meantime, it might take a little more than magic—and a lot of liquid luck—to find an interesting way to revive the Potterverse on the big screen.