The Harry Potter franchise, or the Wizarding World as it is currently known, has been having a real rough go as of late. Between controversies regarding J.K. Rowling, the release of Johnny Depp after issues regarding his legal battles with ex-wife Amber Heard, and the last film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, severely underperforming with critics and at the box office, things just did not seem like they could get worse. Well, guess what? It sounds like things are going to get worse for what was once the most dominant intellectual property in pop culture.
According to insider Daniel Richtman, the newest installment in the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3, is in some serious trouble. Just what the nature of this trouble is does not get a rundown in his report, but the big takeaway is that Richtman is saying WarnerMedia is considering foregoing a theatrical release for the third entry in the saga and sending it straight to streaming service HBO Max. We saw them do something similar with their entire 2021 theatrical slate, so this is certainly a possibility worth entertaining as an outcome for the movie.
To be positive for a minute, this could actually mean more people would see this new Harry Potter movie than if it was solely released in theaters. And there is always the chance that WarnerMedia would do a simultaneous release in theaters and on HBO Max. However, there is no doubt that considering such a tactic means that the studio does not believe that a traditional theatrical release is going to be the best bang for their buck. If Richtman’s report is true, it could mean that Warner Bros. is starting to lose faith in the direction the franchise is going. Or it could also mean that what they are seeing from Fantastic Beasts 3 is simply not giving them a reason to feel excited about it as a tentpole release.
Frankly, the Harry Potter franchise is now always going to be followed by lots of bad press due to creator J.K. Rowling and her vocal opinions about transgender people. Whether you agree with her or not, it is unquestionable that her views attract a ton of negative attention and cloud any new projects in the Harry Potter universe. This is especially strong in Rowling’s case as she maintains tight creative control over the property. She was even a credited screenwriter on the last two films. Warner Bros. may be weighing the level of discourse they want to deal with since Rowling is an unavoidable part of the franchise and the press rounds for each new movie.
Shipping the newest movie to HBO Max would at least minimize the amount of money Warner Bros. would have to spend on marketing this new entry in the Harry Potter universe. And it might be a tactic to get Rowling to avoid doing any press for the next film’s release. We will simply have to wait and see if Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3 ends up streaming at home or in a big theater when it gets released next year.