Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is Warner Bros.' latest would-be blockbuster in the Harry Potter franchise and wasn't all that cheap to make. Even though the story of Harry and his friends ended with the 2011 release of The Deathly Hallows - Part 2, WB found a way to keep the lucrative property alive by producing a prequel/spinoff series following the journeys of Newt Scamander. The first Fantastic Beasts film, which premiered in 2016, was a huge hit, grossing $814 million worldwide.
With the movie coming in as a massive success, WB decided to move ahead with multiple sequels; J.K. Rowling envisions the series as a five-part saga. The first of the followups, The Crimes of Grindelwald, hits theaters this week and is already poised to do well at the box office. Those early projections are a positive sign for the studio, since it all but assures they'll be able to make back their investment.
The Crimes of Grindelwald sports a production budget of $200 million, which is in the neighborhood of the first film. The original Fantastic Beasts had a price tag of $180 million. When compared to the mainline Harry Potter films, both Fantastic Beasts movies were more expensive endeavors than most of the earlier installments (unadjusted for inflation, of course). The only Potter movies that cost more were Half-Blood Prince ($250 million) and Deathly Hallows ($250 million for the two-part adaptation).
Still, $200 million is a "reasonable" amount to spend on a tentpole, as it should be relatively easy for WB to make their money back. Going by the general rule of thumb, The Crimes of Grindelwald needs to earn $400 million globally to break even - a figure less than half of the original's worldwide gross. Considering the popularity of the Wizarding World and its sizable fandom still clamoring for new content, Crimes of Grindelwald should be able to pass that mark early in its run. However, it should be noted Fantastic Beasts 2 scored the worst professional reviews of the franchise and was hit with severe backlash over Johnny Depp's casting. Nobody should expect Crimes of Grindelwald to bomb, but that combination (plus the tepid response towards the first film) may cause the sequel to be less of a hit.
It'll be interesting to see if the Wizarding World brand keeps its magic and emerges as a critic-proof title, but WB seems to have it in solid position to end its run in the black. While $200 million is certainly a lot of money, The Crimes of Grindelwald is nowhere near the top of the most expensive movies ever made list. Fortunately for the studio, the sequel doesn't need to surpass its predecessor in order to be considered a success, so WB smartly managed the project.
- Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald/Fantastic Beasts 2 (2018) release date: Nov 16, 2018