Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald
Fantastic Beasts 3's production start date has been pushed back, which in turn could result in a release date delay - but why is Warner Bros. slamming the brakes on the Wizarding World? Fantastic Beasts 3 will serve as the middle of a five-movie arc, exploring the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald's (Johnny Depp) rise to power, and how unlikely hero Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) helped to stop Grindelwald from taking over the world.
The massive success of the eight Harry Potter movies made it a near-certainty that Warner Bros. would find a way to continue the franchise, and author J.K. Rowling was brought on board to write screenplays for the five Fantastic Beasts movies, which are based on a very short tie-in textbook that was published as a way to raise money for the charity Comic Relief. While Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was well-received, the tide of opinion turned in the lead-up to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, with the studio criticized for giving Depp such a key role amid allegations of domestic abuse.
The decision to delay the start of filming on Fantastic Beasts 3 was almost certainly spurred by the mixed success of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. But what - if anything - is the studio planning to change about the direction of the Fantastic Beasts franchise?
- This Page: How Crimes of Grindelwald Derailed Fantastic Beasts
- Page 2: Fantastic Beasts 3's Production Delay Can Repair The Franchise
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Received Poor Reviews
While some enjoyed Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, overall the reception was much more mixed than Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The sequel received a paltry 37% score on Rotten Tomatoes, and audience polling resulted in a B+ CinemaScore - down two grades from the A that the first movie received. This wasn't particularly a case of a movie dividing fans and critics; The Crimes of Grindelwald was regarded as a bit of a disappointment across the board.
The main criticisms of the movie had to do with its somewhat convoluted plot, which was tasked with setting up a one-two punch of twists at the end of the movie that were tied into various characters' family trees. Despite being the protagonist, Newt Scamander was somewhat sidelined within the ensemble and much of the movie was spent watching different characters trying to track each other down in Paris. The bombshell reveal at the end of the movie - that Credence Barebone (Ezra Miller) is actually Dumbledore's long-lost brother - was more confusing than it was mind-blowing, and many fans were unhappy with the characterization of Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), who decides to leave her friends and family behind and join Grindelwald's cause.
That's not to say that The Crimes of Grindelwald was a total disaster. The movie certainly boasted some impressive visuals that brought the Wizarding World to life, as well as some interesting new creatures and an enticingly darker tone than the first movie. Unfortunately for Warner Bros., however, the movie's lukewarm critical reception was reflected at the box office.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald's Box Office
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald was a modest success at the box office, with a production budget of $200 million and a total worldwide gross of more than $650 million. However, this is a significant downturn from the $814 million total of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and The Crimes of Grindelwald also struggled at the domestic box office, with 75% of its total garnered from overseas markets. While it's not uncommon for sequels to have a smaller gross than the first movie (there was a similar downturn between The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron, and between Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Star Wars: The Last Jedi), this trend is cause for concern given that The Crimes of Grindelwald was only the second entry in a five-movie franchise.
While The Crimes of Grindelwald's box office total wasn't a total disaster, Warner Bros. simply cannot afford to let ticket sales continue to slip for future sequels. These are very expensive movies to make and market, and the studio is almost certainly hoping to hit box office totals that match or come close to those of the Harry Potter movies. Something needs to change, but what will it be?