Harry Potter Director Reveals Film Series Is Likely Dead

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

fantastic beasts 3

Call it the franchise that lived: even though the Harry Potter books and subsequent film adaptations were finished many years ago, the series kept coming back in unexpected ways ranging from theme parks (The Wizarding World at Universal Studios) and even stage productions (The Cursed Child). But the primary way that the franchise lived on was through the Fantastic Beasts films, the last of which was The Secrets of Dumbledore. Now, it looks like the franchise could only hold off the death spell for so long: The Hollywood Reporter says that the longtime franchise director David Yates recently declared the series was “parked” in a recent update.

Fantastic Beasts director David Yates says the Harry Potter film series has been “parked.”

“Parked” is obviously a very carefully chosen word, and it seems like one Yates chose to avoid outright saying that the Fantastic Beasts film franchise is dead in the water. However, his further statements about this parked franchise made it sound increasingly unlikely that it would ever get back moving. The most particularly damning statements on this front seemed to lay implicit blame on franchise creator J.K. Rowling for the muddled direction of the Fantastic Beasts movies.

According to Yates, he and several members were at a press screening for the first Fantastic Beasts movie along with J.K. Rowling. At this event, Yates claims that Rowling “spontaneously” told the gathered members of the press “Oh, by the way, there’s five of them.” Yates and company were stunned  “because no one had told us there were going to be five” and they had only “committed to this one.”

Yates makes it sound like Rowling just came up with the idea of Fantastic Beasts being a five-film franchise on her own, and he and the other creators involved were understandably surprised because “that was the first we’d heard of it.”

The next two Fantastic Beasts movies underperformed, however: The Crimes of Grindelwald grossed $648 million and The Secrets of Dumbledore grossed only $404 million.

Warner Bros. never corrected Rowling or gave any idea that doing five movies wasn’t part of the plan from the beginning. Chances are the studio imagined this spinoff series becoming just as popular as Harry Potter was, but Yates’ revelation about Rowling helps explain exactly why that never happened.

The first Fantastic Beasts movie was relatively self-contained and seemed like a (mostly) lighthearted mashup of the Wizarding World and Pokemon. In that film, franchise newcomer Newt Scamander must travel to America to track down the fantastic beasts and return them to the safety of his magical briefcase. As a breezy romp filled with fun new characters and countless creatures destined for toy shelves, the movie was a hit, grossing $811 million worldwide.

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Johny Depp as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts films

The next two Fantastic Beasts movies underperformed, however: The Crimes of Grindelwald grossed $648 million and The Secrets of Dumbledore grossed only $404 million. Some of this can likely be traced to wizard fatigue on the part of audiences, but much of it can likely be traced to the fact that Yates had to suddenly build a sprawling mythology out of such a lighthearted first film.

That’s why Newt Scamander seems increasingly sidelined in subsequent films that focused more on a Wizarding War and the coming showdown between Dumbledore and Grindelwald and not, you know…the fantastic beasts that audiences wanted to see. 

According to Fantastic Beasts director David Yates, JK Rowling surprised the filmmakers with the abrupt news that she had five films in the spinoff franchise planned.

Still, Yates is eager to point out that he hasn’t spoken with Rowling or Warner Bros. about the Fantastic Beasts franchise, and he therefore can’t rule out that “Newt may well be back” at some point in the future.

However, with Max preparing to remake the original Harry Potter franchise into a television show, we seriously doubt Warner Bros. will continue the Fantastic Beasts story. Yates may say that the franchise is merely “parked,” but we think this is one car that not even Harry Potter and Ron Weasley could get moving (or should that be flying?) ever again.