Variety: Beasts3 All About Hogwarts

Variety says the only thing that will save the Fantastic Beasts film franchise is a return to Hogwarts. Yes, fine, send the fantastic foursome and Grindelwald to Brazil, but make sure at least half the movie is with Jude Law at our favorite school of witchcraft and wizardry.

Rebecca Rubin writes in ‘Fantastic Beasts 3’: Can Warner Bros. Recapture ‘Harry Potter’ Magic? that the franchise was in serious trouble after Crimes of Grindelwald but that filmmakers know the way back to the first film’s resonance with Wizarding World faithful. the secret, according to one “box office analyst,” will be winning back the domestic audiences in the US and UK, which means ‘More Young Dumbledore.’

“The Crimes of Grindelwald” wasn’t exactly an embarrassment with $650 million in worldwide ticket sales, but it fell short of expectations and earned over $150 million less than its predecessor. What did become clear, however, was that just two films in, the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise was already starting to show signs of fatigue.

“I don’t think you can discount a movie that made $650 million, but there’s an issue any time a sequel drops that far from the original,” said Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with Exhibitor Relations. “We’ve seen what happens when a studio tries to put out a third movie in a franchise after the second didn’t do anything for audiences.”…

Part three is expected to put more of a spotlight on Jude Law’s young Albus Dumbledore and set more action at Hogwarts, with series stars Eddie Redmayne, Ezra Miller, Katherine Waterston and Dan Fogler also returning. While taking the series back to its Hogwarts roots, the third movie will also show how magic is explored in an entirely new location: Rio de Janeiro….

“If you look at what worked with ‘Crimes of Grindelwald, it was when they went back to Hogwarts. There were audible gasps from the audience,” Bock said. “People loved seeing Jude Law as Dumbledore. Hopefully J.K. and the writers realize just because the movie is set in Brazil doesn’t mean we can’t spend half the time at Hogwarts. There are things they could do to save the movie.”

Read the whole thing.

Analyst Bock is excited about Steve Kloves’ return to screenwriting, albeit as an assistant to Rowling or partner rather than a writer who adapts her novels. I expect this means that the director wants the cuts made in the shooting script and rewrites for blockbuster formula all done before he gets to the shooting and retreats to the cutting room. From this view, Kloves will be adapting Rowling’s screenplays rather than her novel — and we’re even less likely to know the story as she conceived it.

Or I’m just making too much of one analyst’s opinions. What do you think?

 

Fantastic Beasts 3 In Brazil, On Schedule

Deadline.com in an “EXCLUSIVE” article not much longer than its title, ‘Fantastic Beasts 3′ Moving Forward With Spring 2020 Start, Jessica Williams’ ‘Lally’ Character To Play Pivotal Part In Brazil-Set Threequel, has told us what Warner Brothers wants us to know this week about the third film in their Fantastic Beasts franchise. The three high points of this press release are that the film will be set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that the Jessica Williams character, a professor at Ilvermorny, will have a larger role than she did in Crimes of Grindelwald, and that the film will start filming next year and be released on 12 November 2021.

All of which we knew. The Rio setting was made clear more than a year ago in a Rowling tweet and twitter header (above), the Williams professorial role announced in April 2018 couldn’t get any smaller in the third film, and the date was set six months ago. I think it is safe to say that this “EXCLUSIVE” report is only meant to remind us that this movie is in the making; the odds of our forgetting without these bimonthly refreshers, given the mess that was Crimes of Grindelwald and the two years between now and our ability to see the movie, are quite good.

There is news that is worthy of note just after the reassuring bit about the actors and actresses returning in their roles (all are there except Leda Lestrange which I expect is an absence to prevent the giveaway that was made early on in Crimes marketing with the announcement of Ezra Miller’s return). At the end of the fine print paragraph listing the nine Producers and Executive Producers, the attentive reader will note this throw-away line: “The screenplay will be written by J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves.”

My hope is this announcement means that Rowling will be writing the story and that Kloves will turn that story into a screenplay and shooting script that David Yates won’t have to butcher “to fit the woman to the dress,” as Kloves called re-writing Rowling’s scripts so they conformed to Warner Brothers formula. We’ll know in two years if that is the case and whether or not it worked. If Rowling’s picture that was used as a cameo in a recent Letters to Europe article in The Guardian (left) is any sign, the process is not rejuvenating her.

Hat-tip to an anonymous friend ‘Over There’ for the Deadline.com story and for the unflattering cameo picture note. Please click on the ‘Leave a Comment’ button up by the post’s title and let me know what you think!

Jacob Kowalski — on a Diet?

Friend of this weblog and frequent contributor Kelly Loomis sent me a picture last month of Dan Fogler. She wrote: “Fogler at LeakyCon – he just came from the Walking Dead set. Doesn’t even look like his former dumpling self. He confirmed that filming for Fantastic Beasts 3 will begin in February 2020. How will his weight loss affect his character?”

Three thoughts:

(1) The less we think about the actors in films, the better. Dan Fogler and Ezra Miller are perfect examples of why this is such a good principle; both are risibly self-important and uninformed — and nothing either of them says contributes to our understanding of the story being told or how it might unfold.

(2) A Skinny Jacob Kowalski is not a problem: I have to suspect Mr Fogler is more than capable of regaining the weight he has lost for ‘Walking Dead’ if he so desired; the American holiday season is a gift to anyone wanting to pack on pounds. If he wants to remain relatively svelte, the fat suit fitters and cosmetic scientists at Warner Brothers are equal to the task.

(3) Maybe Jacob loses weight in Fantastic Beasts 3: We’re assuming that Fogler lost the weight for ‘Walking Dead’ and that this presents a problem because he plays a fat baker in the Beasts movie. we could, however, read this weight loss as a clue to the transformation he is to undergo in coming films. There has already been one magical parasite in the movies. Perhaps Jacob Kowalski is infected, enchanted, or imprisoned in Beasts 3 and loses that chubby persona — back to the fighting weight he was in as a doughboy in the WWI trenches.

Forgive me for the minute of your life you have lost to perusing this speculation! Feel free to chide me for violating the principle in (1) above and please do share your thoughts about Skinny Jacob if you are so moved.

Four Dropped Threads in Beasts Films

I’m a shameless Laurie Beckoff fan-boy. She’s a UChicagwarts alumna, a Jeopardy champion, and a first tier Potter Pundit. If you have any doubts about that, go back and listen to the ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast in which she was the guest expert on King Arthur and the Medieval aspects of the Hogwarts Saga, the subject of her Master’s thesis. Smart, funny, well-read — did I mention “smart like Hermione”? You can watch her tell her Harry Potter story (with great pictures of her pre-teen Luna Lovegood Halloween costume) here.

Anyway, I stumbled on an article Beckoff wrote for MuggleNet last year — she is a regular contributor to the “#1 Wizarding World Resource since 1999,” not to mention MNet podcast producer and their Campaign Co-ordinator — about The Crimes of Grindelwald. The piece is just what its title says it is, namely, Four “Fantastic Beasts” Threads Lost in “Crimes of Grindelwald.”

We’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink here about the failings of Crimes of Grindelwald (check out the fifty pieces listed on the film’s Pillar Post) but I think this Beckoff post on ‘Lost Threads’ brings up the more obvious and at least as important point not discussed here. The sequel failed to deliver on expectations primarily because it didn’t work as a sequel, i.e., the things we learned in Beasts 1 didn’t mesh with the developments we were given in Beasts 2. Jacob’s obliviated-by-rain memory and his shop? Credence’s death? Newt’s expulsion from Hogwarts? Leta’s relationship with Newt? “All gone!”

Yes, there’s a lot more that’s wrong with Crimes than that. We had the director once again butcher Rowling’s shooting script ring composition, for example. The Leta Lestrange sub-plot was incomprehensible because almost every cut scene was one that included Leta or was about her. Check out the Pillar Post for the full agonizing survey. Having noted all that, though, it pays to remember the first great disappointment with Crimes for fans was that it didn’t work as a Fantastic Beasts follow-up. Beckoff’s list of “lost threads” brings that shock back into sharp focus. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Fantastic Beasts Theme Park On Its Way

Universal has announced that is building a new theme park in Orlando, Florida, on a seven and a half acre property several miles from their current site featuring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The new park will include several new features, the most interesting to Potter-philes being a Fantastic Beasts section. The ground has been graded and prepared already so the owners hope to break ground later this year and open the new park in 2023. Read all about the plans, schedule, and property at OrlandoParkStop.com.

I admit to being surprised at this move but this only speaks to my naivete. If I had given it any thought (and of course I haven’t), I would have realized the success or failure of a film franchise is not the only factor in consideration for their adaptation as a theme park, perhaps it is not even a major or critical factor. For evidence of that, review the movies and television programs featured at various Universal Studios. Fantastic Beasts may not be a blockbuster franchise a la Harry Potter but it is doing well enough to be recognizable as a title and the precedent of Wizarding World success makes it a natural.

I doubt, though, that it will ever achieve the kind of pilgrimage status that Wizarding World’s Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have. The Beast movies lack the imaginative experience in depth that the Potter books inspired. As excited as any fan may be about Newt Scamander’s adventures and the revelations of Credence’s history against the back-drop of the Dumbledore-Grindelwald blood pact, it just isn’t in the same league of engagement and wonder as Harry’s battles with the Dark Lord.

Your thoughts? 

Thanks to Kelly for sharing the news about this new park.