The ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Franchise Is “Taking a Pause”

J.K. Rowling‘s Fantastic Beasts franchise is officially on ice. During the podcast Inside Total Film, franchise director David Yates said that the Harry Potter spin-off has been “parked” for the time being.

Yates has directed every film set in the Harry Potter universe since 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. On the podcast, Yates sang the praised the most recent offering in the three-film franchise—2022’s Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore—but confirmed that there are no current plans to move forward with the series. “We’re all so proud of [The Secrets of Dumbledore], and when it went out into the world, we just needed to sort of stop and pause and take it easy,” he said.

Filming Fantastic Beasts 3 was particularly difficult due to the pandemic, said Yates. And now, the series is taking an indefinite hiatus. “With Beasts, it’s all just parked,” he said. “We made those three movies, we made the last one through a pandemic, and it was enormous fun, but it was tough. We were actually filming when there wasn’t a vaccine. Thank goodness no one got sick, but we did have the most detailed protocols in place.”

The franchise has suffered bad reviews and controversy due, in part, to two of its stars: Johnny Depp and Ezra Miller.  Depp, who played Grindelwald in the first two Fantastic Beast films, was replaced by Mads Mikkelsen in the third film after he was publicly accused by ex-wife Amber Heard of domestic abuse. (Depp has denied the claims, and won a defamation case against Heard in December 2022.) Miller, who starred in all three films as Aurelius Dumbledore, was arrested multiple times in 2022 and pled guilty to unlawful trespassing. (Miller has since sought treatment for “complex mental health issues.”) On top of that, Harry Potter scribe Rowling, who wrote the first two Fantastic Beasts films and has a co-writing credit on the third, has been widely criticized for her transphobic remarks. 

According to Yates, Rowling wanted the franchise to have five films, an idea he was never totally on board with. “The idea that there were going to be five [Fantastic Beasts] films was a total surprise to most of us,” the director said. “Jo just mentioned it spontaneously, at a press screening once. We were presenting some clips of FB1 [Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them]. We’d all signed up for FB1, very enthusiastically. And Jo, bless her, came on … and Jo said, ‘Oh, by the way, there’s five of them.’ And we all looked at each other because no one had told us there were going to be five. We’d sort of committed to this one. So that was the first we’d heard of it.”

Yates said he hasn’t spoken with Rowling, franchise producer David Heyman, or Warner Bros about the franchise recently. “We’re just taking a pause,” he said. “And it’s quite nice.” But while there are no immediate plans to return to the franchise, Yates is cautiously optimistic that there will be more Fantastic Beasts films in the future. “I’m sure at some point we may well be back,” he said. “Who can tell?”

While Fantastic Beasts may be on pause, the Harry Potter cinematic universe is still expanding. Warner Bros. discovery confirmed in September that a Max Original television series based on all seven Harry Potter books written by Rowling is coming to the streaming platform in the coming years. “This new Max Original series will dive deep into each of the iconic books that fans have continued to enjoy for all of these years,” said HBO and Max head honcho Casey Bloys. The television series is expected to hit the streaming platform in 2025 or 2026, and will allegedly run for “ten consecutive years.” So, while Fantastic Beasts may be no more, there’s plenty of Harry Potter content in store in the not too distant future.

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