Arriving almost four years after the previous sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald underwhelmed the box office, the third instalment in the Fantastic Beasts saga has arrived, and franchise fatigue has fully taken hold of the Wizarding World. The Secrets of Dumbledore grossed $42 million (domestically) for its opening weekend, that’s noticeably off the launch of Grindelwald ($62 million) and the original film back in 2016 ($74 million).
When the Harry Potter prequel films were first announced, Warner Bros confirmed that there would be three instalments in the Fantastic Beasts franchise. However, this was later increased to five movies with events spanning two decades. The first film arrived five years after we bid farewell to Harry Potter, and audiences were only too happy to return to The Wizarding World. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them grossed $814 million worldwide, and the series was off to a strong start.
Sadly that wasn’t the case, as The Crimes of Grindelwald could only muster a global haul of $654 million, which made Warner Bros concerned for the future of one of its most prominent properties. Costing $200 million (before marketing), Grindelwald’s global box office yielded a small profit for Warner Bros, but nowhere near what the studio had expected. The Secrets of Dumbledore carries the same reported production budget and currently has a worldwide box office of $290 million. As big movies tend to be more front-loaded than long-running (No Way Home being a recent exception), Dumbledore will struggle to break even.
However, things behind the scenes have also played a role in the diminishing popularity of the Fantastic Beasts movies. Firstly, Johnny Depp’s casting in the film proved divisive due to allegations against him by his ex-wife, J.K Rowling, and Warner Bros stood by their decision to cast him, and Depp returned to play Grindelwald in the sequel. The actor filmed a single day on The Secrets of Dumbledore before he was asked to resign from the role and was quickly replaced by Mads Mikkelsen.
The author herself, Rowling, has become a divisive figure due to her comments and opinions on the trans community, which is widely believed to be why Katherine Waterston’s role as Tina Goldstein was heavily reduced in the new film due to Waterston’s opposition of Rowling’s comments. Rowling’s words have made it impossible for many Harry Potter fans to return to the Wizarding World. Finally, Ezra Miller’s latest troubles with the law haven’t helped matters, and as he’s part of another big Warner Bros movie, his recent arrest is more likely to impact The Flash than Fantastic Beasts. The overall picture it paints is a franchise that has a lot of baggage, perhaps too much to continue.
While it remains unclear if Fantastic Beasts 4 & 5 will materialise in cinemas, Warner Bros is by no means going to give up on spinning more stories from The Wizarding World. The studio has made no secret of its desire to make The Cursed Child into a franchise, but perhaps the best thing for The Wizarding World is it takes a little break.