Fantastic Beasts Franchise Getting Shut Down?

There is growing speculation that Warner Bros. Discovery is abandoning the Fantastic Beasts franchise.

By Jennifer Asencio | Published

Newt Scamander may be in trouble, and it won’t be from Gellert Grindelwald. The latest entry into the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them franchise didn’t perform well in theaters, and Variety reports there may be speculation about whether more sequels will be made. The story was supposed to include five movies, but the underwhelming performance of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore may be causing the studio to abandon the series.

These speculations are caused by Warner Bros. lack of announcements regarding the next chapter in the Harry Potter prequel. When franchise movies have been successful, Warner Bros. is usually quick to proclaim a sequel’s development but that has not been the case with Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. This lack of action may partly be due to there being no script for a fourth movie, which means the movie can’t start filming this year, which would project a 2025 release date at the earliest.

There have been more significant gaps between Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies. Still, the studio’s target audience is adults who read the books when they were first released over 20 years ago, who already know how the story ends, and who have shown little interest in this era of the Wizarding World. The previous installment, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, also underperformed at the box office but did better than The Secrets of Dumbledore.

mads mikkselsen
Mads Mikkelsen in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore

The eight Harry Potter movies differ from the Fantastic Beasts series because the former was based on books, so audiences of the movies had a chance to immerse themselves into the Wizarding World and become familiar with its characters and plots before seeing them onscreen. The Fantastic Beasts series doesn’t seem to have much source material to work with, nor do they have more than mentions in the original book series to support them.

However, another reason the franchise may be struggling is the theater closures that promoted social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Across all box office receipts, there have been decreases in projected earnings, even for big franchises, and many studios don’t see the industry returning to pre-pandemic volume until 2025 or later. These circumstances make a big-budget expenditure like the Fantastic Beasts movies a little risky, where it may have been considered in a different climate.

Warner Bros. has expressed definite interest in working with Wizarding World creator JK Rowling on future Harry Potter projects, even if they do not continue with the Fantastic Beasts series. Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav said in a conference call that he wanted to work on developing the studio’s franchise properties, including both Harry Potter and the DC Universe. To this end, he put James Gunn and Peter Safran in charge of DC Studios as co-chairmen and CEOs, but the parent studio seems to be putting their focus on this property rather than Harry Potter.

Nonetheless, there are still Harry Potter projects in the works, and Zaslav’s comments generated buzz that fans might expect a movie version of the stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. If the Fantastic Beasts series is truly canceled, we Muggles still have plenty of potential Harry Potter content to look forward to, if JK Rowling agrees to it.