Fantastic Beasts Bumped, Depp Dumped

There were two big bits of news this last week in Warner Brothers’ Fantastic Beasts film franchise.

The first is that the third Beasts film, still not named, has been pushed back from its November 2021 release date to sometime in the summer of 2022. Variety covers that story here.

The second is the announcement that Johnny Depp will not be playing the role of Gellert Grindelwald in Beasts 3. He was asked to step down after losing a libel case against his ex-wife and he agreed to do so sans protest (which suggests he was bought out with a generous settlement). From that story’s Variety report:

“I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and I have respected and agreed to that request,” he wrote Friday on Instagram.

Depp’s exit from the “Harry Potter” spinoff series comes days after he lost his libel case against The Sun, a British tabloid that published an article in 2018 alleging he was a “wife beater.” Depp said he plans to appeal the ruling.

TIME magazine has run a piece already with the title, ‘Just Cancel the Fantastic Beasts Franchise Already.’ The reasons they offer for the cancellation are all Critique related, which is to say, that the franchise is forever tainted by accusations against principal players of violating Social Justice Canonical Law. The secular fundamentalists policing our culture assert that Depp’s supposed acts of violence against his wife, Ezra Miller’s supposed attack on a woman in an Iceland bar, and Rowling’s supposed transphobia add up to three strikes against the series.

I agree with the conclusion but differ with every piece as well as the logic of their argument. [Read more…]

Rowling Blows Up Twitter Once Again; She Doubles Down on Sex and Gender

Read all about it here: J.K. Rowling slammed for defending concept of biological sex: ‘It isn’t hate to speak the truth.’

The short version: Rowling in a series of tweets has repeated and doubled-down on her #IStandWithMaya position from last December that it is not bigotry or hate-speech to insist that transgender women are not biological women.

The twitter-verse predictably has exploded with calls for her beheading mixed in with celebrations of her courage in speaking the truth.

I have three thoughts about what this means that I offer here in haste for your comment and correction:

(1) Another Rowling Vacation from Twitter? After the explosion in December about her insufficient woke-ness, Rowling disappeared for several months. She re-surfaced during the Covid-19 lockdown, it seems in retrospect in order to do what she could in the cause of “saving the NHS.” Her posts took the turn of hyper-political scolding with the Dominic Cummings controversy so perhaps it should be no surprise that the issue of transgender rights has resurfaced as well. Maybe this second doxxing and deep-dipping in the mercurial baths of social media will remind her why she left Twitter in the first place and why she should resume her silence.

(2) The End of the Goodwill Campaign? Rowling re-entered the social media world with a bang; she gave a million pounds sterling to two Covid-19 charities and created a website that is posting in daily chapters her political fairy tale, The Ickabog, all for free. Children everywhere have been reading it and creating drawings to accompany the eventual printed text. Rowling’s tweets the last two weeks have almost exclusively been in admiration of drawings sent to her by proud parents and excited children. If she leaves Twitter, of course, it will mean the end of that wonderful experience for author and illustrators alike.

(3) Goodbye, Fantastic Beasts? It’s hard to imagine Rowling being kept on in any front line capacity with her Newt Scamander film series. The Super Politically Correct actors involved, the ones playing Credence Barebones (Ezra Miller) and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) most obviously, however much they have revered Rowling in the past, will have a very hard time reconciling their public personae with Rowling’s statements about transgender women. Warner Brothers, frankly, might be just as pleased to have Rowling give them a novel to adapt rather than have her continue as screenwriter and executive producer.

If this situation leads to Rowling reverting to novelist and giving up the screen-writing, there will be no complaints from this corner.

What are your thoughts about what the latest twitter storm will mean for Rowling’s future as a writer? A gentle warning, in advance; I’m not interested in and will not approve any comments that discuss the transgender issue per se. Please share those opinions on the thousands of fan sites and twitter feeds devoted to that subject. 



Rowling’s New Twitter Header Means The Faerie Queene is a Strike 5 Theme?

As many of us are anxiously looking forward to the release of the fifth Cormoran Strike novel, Troubled Blood, this September, the latest change to J.K. Rowling’s Twitter account may have some clues. The novel’s title has several possible origins, including Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene. With her recently changed Twitter header, which includes an image from a beautifully illustrated 1890s edition of The Faerie Queene, Rowling and her crime-writing alter-ego Robert Galbraith may be laying the groundwork for a Spenser-scaffolding installment in the adventures of the ever-fascinating Strike and Robin Ellacott. Some of us truly hope that is the case.

[Read more…]

Guest Post: The Real Tycho Dodonus?

The Predictions of Tycho Dodonus play an outsize role in the understory beneath the confusing surface action of the Fantastic Beasts film franchise. In a nutshell, the wizards of the age seem to believe that the poetic predictions made by Tycho point to the identity of Credence as something of a deliverer. What we haven’t been told is who this Tycho was (is?) and why his cryptic utterances carry such weight with witches and wizards between the two great World Wars. Tyler Brown has found a real-world model that may be an important clue in grasping what the Tycho prophetic sub-plot means in Beasts. Enjoy!

The Predictions of Tyconius the Donatist?

In The Crimes of Grindelwald, we are newly introduced to a prophecy that has taken the wizarding world by storm, the Predictions of Tycho Dodonus. We first hear of Tycho Dodonus when Yusuf Kama mentions the Predictions to Tina outside the Parisian Café, where she dismisses them as mere poetry. Prediction 20 itself first appears in the extended cut’s next scene, the ballroom scene featuring Leta, where rumors are that Credence Barebone is actually Leta’s brother Corvus Lestrange returned beyond hope. Travers begins to quote Prediction 20 to Dumbledore in the DADA classroom scene, who cuts him off with, “Yes, I know it.” Yusuf recites the full text later in the Lestrange Mausoleum: “A son cruelly banished / Despair of the daughter / Return, great avenger / With wings from the water.” Yet, the Corvus Lestrange interpretation is invalidated, of course, by Leta’s admission of the Credence-Corvus baby-swap.

Interestingly, the Predictions of Tycho Dodonus are a unique prophecy in the Potterverse, being, apparently, public knowledge. Rowling has departed from her usual procedure with the prophecies of Tycho Dodonus, since, as we know from the Potter series, prophecies are typically collected by the Department of Mysteries to be placed under guard in the Hall of Prophecies. That the Tycho Dodonus prophecies are not handled this way suggests their importance. Therefore, we can probably expect the continuing influence of Tycho Dodonus’ prophecy in Beasts.

Being aware of this, I was surprised the other day to come across a real-world name very similar to Tycho Dodonus: Tyconius the Donatist (try saying them aloud!). It turns out that Tyconius the Donatist wrote a Book of Rules which is intended to guide readers through, wait for it, “the vast forest of prophecy” of the Scriptures.i This discovery was enough to hook me in, so I started doing some digging to see if there were any parallels between Tyconius the Donatist and Tycho Dodonus, and I was not disappointed. So, could Tyconius the Donatist be a real-world inspiration for the prophet of Fantastic Beasts? My reasons for believing so follow. [Read more…]

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?