In 2016, “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” hit theaters and made a killing at the box office. The “Harry Potter” prequel netted over $800 million, and seemed poised to successfully continue the Wizarding World franchise in lieu of any more stories involving Harry and his friends. Since then, the series has been embroiled in controversy, in part because of Ezra Miller and in part because of franchise creator J.K. Rowling herself.
Where exactly does the “Fantastic Beasts” branch of the Wizarding World stand now? Have the remaining films actually been cancelled?
Rowling has opened herself up to a world of controversy due to a number of comments she has made, and doubled down on, regarding transgender individuals. This caused some divisions in the fan base, along with the “Harry Potter” films’ stars. Some have stood up against Rowling’s positions, and some don’t quite get it. When it comes to “Fantastic Beasts” specifically, the other problem has been the aforementioned Miller. Miller has been involved in so much controversy, it’s too much to even recap. The troubles run the gamut from assault to burglary, to the possible endangerment of multiple children.
Has this caused the franchise to be cancelled? Not really. Warner Bros. Discovery have been going through their own tumultuous time. Since the merger of the two companies earlier this year, CEO David Zaslav has made a number of decisions that have rubbed people the wrong way, all in the name of saving costs. One thing he is apparently a big fan of is franchises.
Zaslav extols the benefits of franchises and the stability they represent in terms of getting into theaters around the world. He’d even be open to working with Rowling on a new “Harry Potter” project, something he seems to want to happen soon.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Zaslav has no problems working with Rowling considering he has taken no issue with keeping Ezra Miller on as The Flash. No matter how bad, numerous, or criminal the allegations against Miller have been, there has been no apparent effort to find someone else for the role of The Flash. If that’s the case, why would there be any issue for Zaslav in working with Rowling?
The only thing that may actually be cancelling “Fantastic Beasts” as a franchise is something far more basic, the law of diminishing returns. As mentioned above, the first film made more than $800 million. The second was still profitable but only made $650 million. The most recent film, “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore,” only took in $400 million against a budget that was half that. Put aside the controversies and it makes perfect business sense to not continue with a fourth film.
Despite the fact that there are currently no movies in development in the Wizarding World, there is an upcoming game “Hogwarts Legacy” due in February of 2023. It may actually turn out to be a good litmus test to see how powerful the franchise still is. Would it be enough to stoke interest in another film? Given Zaslav’s apparent interests in established IP’s, it’s safe to say that if there’s money to be made, he’s going to tap into it. Right now though, it seems like the Wizarding World well has been tapped dry.
Is it officially “cancelled?” The “Fantastic Beasts” spin-offs may be, but as for the world as a whole, let’s wait to see how “Hogwarts Legacy” does before we put the nail in that horcrux.