Producer David Heyman says that Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is more of a thriller and will delve deeper into the Wizarding World mythology than its predecessor did. The sequel, like the first Fantastic Beasts movie, is being directed by David Yates from a screenplay by the Wizarding World's creator herself, J.K. Rowling. According to Heyman, however, both Yates and Rowling have stepped up their games to deliver something better and more exciting with The Crimes of Grindelwald.
The official title of the Fantastic Beasts sequel was announced just last week, exactly one year ahead of its scheduled release in theaters. According to the official synopsis for the film, The Crimes of Grindelwald picks up some time after the eponymous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) has made good on his promise to escape after being arrested and taken into custody by MACUSA, and is now roaming the world attracting more and more followers to his vile cause. The only hope that the Wizarding World has of stopping him lies with Albus Dumbledore - who, at this point in the Wizarding World timeline of events, is a much younger and far more troubled man (played by Jude Law) than the wise and whimsical wizard who mentored The Boy Who Lived in the Harry Potter series.
Speaking to EW, Heyman says that fans have reason to be optimistic The Crimes of Grindelwald will be a step up from the first Fantastic Beasts movie. For starters, the sequel is much larger in scope and tone, as its narrative takes audiences on an adventure that spans several countries (whereas the first installment took place primarily in New York) and introduces even more characters along the way:
“We delve deeper into Jo’s wizarding world - we’re in Paris, we’re in London and New York - the world is expanding. As you can tell from the image, we’re following quite a few characters. The new film has a very different feel than the first. It’s got a thriller quality. And it’s also a story about love and passion and all its forms - paternal, romantic, political. And it’s just a thrilling and very fun adventure. We took all we’ve learned from one and just expanded that and created a richer, deeper and more thrilling film which I’m excited to be a part of.”
Heyman also spoke highly of Yates' direction on The Crimes of Grindelwald, adding that the film is more visually engaging than its predecessor (as a reflection of its plot):
“Cinematically it’s more dynamic. The camera is more alive and much more immersive. It has a more contemporary cinematic approach.”
The first Fantastic Beasts movie was mostly positively received by critics and audiences, grossing $814 million worldwide in theaters (against a $180 million budget) for its efforts. All the same, Heyman's comments here come off as a response to some of the more common criticisms of the film - namely that it got bogged down in setting up the larger Fantastic Beasts franchise (a series that, assuming that everything goes to plan, will span five movies) and was lacking in dramatic stakes and compelling characters, compared to the Harry Potter movies. By adding players like Dumbledore into the equation and delving fully into his famous war with Grindelwald (a very personal battle for the pair, given their history together), the hope is that The Crimes of Grindelwald will indeed mark an improvement on the first installment in these respects.
Of course, one concern is that the conflict between Dumbledore and Grindelwald will be much more compelling than Newt Scamander's (Eddie Redmayne) continuing story, making Newt's inclusion in the Fantastic Beasts sequel feel like an unnecessary hindrance more than anything else. There are other issues to be concerned about too, like whether Grindelwald and his crimes won't be all that interesting or feel like a watered down variation on Voldemort's evil crusade in the Harry Potter series. Heyman's words here are encouraging, so here's to hoping that by swinging bigger, Yates and Rowling end up hitting a proper home run this time around.