Fantastic Beasts director David Yates says that Warner Bros. has “parked” the Harry Potter spin-off prequel series. Yates directed three movies — Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (pictured) — out of a planned five-film franchise.
As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, Yates gave an update about Fantastic Beasts on the Inside Total Film podcast. “With Beasts for a minute, it’s all just parked,” says Yates. “We got to the end of [the third film, 2020’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore] and we’re all so proud of that movie, and when it went out into the world, we just needed to sort of stop and pause, and take it easy.”
Yates suggests that Warner Bros. initially planned a Fantastic Beasts trilogy, but during a media event for the first movie, author and screenwriter J.K. Rowling made the impromptu announcement about a five-film plan. “The idea that there were going to be five films was a total surprise to most of us,” says Yates. “[Rowling] just mentioned it spontaneously, at a press screening once. We were presenting some clips of FB1. We’d all signed up for FB1, very enthusiastically. And Jo, bless her, came on … and said, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s five of them.’ We all looked at each other — because no one had told us there were going to be five. We’d committed to this one. So that was the first we’d heard of it.”
J.K. Rowling Announced Her Intention to Pen Five Fantastic Beasts Scripts, Surprising Director David Yates
With regard to Rowling's surprise announcement of her intention to write scripts for five Fantastic Beasts movies, The Hollywood Reporter writes, “Warner Bros. never corrected this statement or gave any indication that five films wasn’t the plan, despite five being cited in media stories for years afterward. Also, it’s clear that — especially with the second film, 2018’s The Crimes of Grindelwald — that that franchise creatively seemed intent on following the villainous wizard’s (first played by Johnny Depp, then Mads Mikkelsen) storyline through to his climactic, as-yet-unseen, confrontation with Dumbledore (Jude Law). Then the ending of Secrets rather unexpectedly seemed like an attempt to wrap things up.”
Yates is currently promoting his new crime drama Pain Hustlers starring Emily Blunt and Chris Evans for Netflix. “I haven’t spoken to Jo, I haven’t spoken to [producer] David Heyman, I haven’t spoken to Warner Bros; we’re just taking a pause,” says Yates about Fantastic Beasts. “It’s quite nice because it allows me to do stuff like [Pain Hustlers]. But I’m sure at some point, [central character] Newt [Scamander] may well be back. Who can tell? We haven’t had any in-depth conversations.”
If Fantastic Beasts does return, some kind of rethink is needed. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them made $811 million globally, while Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald dropped to $648 million, and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore fell to a $404 million global total. Replacing Depp with Mikkelsen mid-franchise didn't help with continuity, and Rowling's controversial statements about the trans community turned off many moviegoers.