Last weekend, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was released, and while it was the number one movie at the box office, it didn't exactly make a ton of money either. Right now, we know that Warner Bros. has not greenlit movies four and five, and to say that this series has been messy behind the scenes might be a bit of an understatement. From a massive recasting to a cast member assaulting people to the author of the work going off the TERF deep end, the Fantastic Beasts series feels like it has been a misstep from nearly right out of the gate. However, that isn't the case at all, and the problem comes from the dishonesty of the series and what it is actually about.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released in 2016, and while it wasn't exactly a critical darling, it did pretty well, and the fans seemed to think it was all right as well. That makes the vitriol toward the second movie and the apathy toward the third even more interesting. The problem is that the first movie was a bait-and-switch when it came to what it was actually about. For what felt like roughly 85% of the film, we ran around watching a bunch of new characters try to catch a bunch of crazy-looking creatures and do magic. It was Harry Potter Pok'e'mon, and New Scamander was here to catch em' all. However, in the final parts of the movie, it revealed itself to not be about crazy-looking creatures at all. All of that was just set dressing, as they set up the infamous Grindelwald story and inevitably brought in Dumbledore as well.
The problem with this bait-and-switch is that it splits your audience. The people who enjoyed the first part of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be annoyed in movies two and three because Grindelwald and Dumbledore keep showing up and taking over the plot so there aren't really any fantastic beasts to be seen. However, fans looking to see the story of Grindelwald and Dumbledore are going to be annoyed that we keep cutting back to these other characters like Newt, who don't seem to really matter and aren't who we are here to see. The movie is trying to please both of those audiences, and by doing that, it is giving them both mediocre and frustrating films to watch.
Warner Bros. seemed to be banking on the idea that they could do anything related to Harry Potter, and it would do well, and for the first movie, it worked. It made over $800 million at the worldwide box office, and people generally thought it was all right. However, the dislike of the second movie was so bad they had to rewrite and rework the third to try and course correct mid-franchise. Several franchises have fallen apart because they put the cart before the horse; the Dark Universe, the initial version of the DCEU, and Fantastic Beasts is one of them. The third movie hastily wraps up many plot points that leave the door open for two more films, but if this is the end, it isn't ending on a massive cliffhanger.
If J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. wanted to tell the story of a dude running around the world doing magic with his friends while capturing many insane-looking CGI creatures, they should have done that. If they wanted to tell the story of Dumbledore and Grindelwald, then they should have done that right out of the gate. There isn't a reality where fans wouldn't have been into that; there was no reason to pretend that this was something they had to be eased into. Instead, the franchise was dishonest about what it was actually about in the first Fantastic Beasts movie, split its audience and fans, and has never been able to recover.
Professor Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) knows the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Mads Mikkelsen) is moving to seize control of the wizarding world. Unable to stop him alone, he entrusts Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to lead an intrepid team of wizards, witches, and one brave Muggle baker on a dangerous mission, where they encounter old and new beasts and clash with Grindelwald's growing legion of followers. But with the stakes so high, how long can Dumbledore remain on the sidelines?
The film features an ensemble cast led by Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), two-time Oscar nominee Jude Law (Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley), Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Callum Turner, Jessica Williams, Katherine Waterston, and Mads Mikkelsen. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore is directed by David Yates, from a screenplay by J.K. Rowling & Steve Kloves, based upon a screenplay by J.K. Rowling. It was released on April 15, 2022.