Is There New Hope for Fantastic Beasts? Ezra Miller Proves Me Wrong, Again

I’ve predicted that Ezra Miller was down for the count (and with him, The Flash film franchise) in almost every report in the last several years of his arrests, confinements, apologies, and theatrics. You can search the site for those statements of surety that this troubled young man could not possibly climb out of the hole he had dug for himself this time.

The Flash premieres in theaters nationwide on 16 June. Except for my weather predictions for the opening of Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, I think this means that my batting average for pre-event speculations is an almost perfect .000. My hat is tipped to the Warner Brothers wizards, their lawyers, media masseurs, and psychologists, for pulling off what I thought was impossible: the redemption of Ezra.

Does this mean that the Fantastic Beasts franchise might be saved — and Aurelius Dumbledore survive to see Beasts5 and the battle between Albus and Gellert? I’d tell you what I think is going to happen, but then you’d know what was really in the cards by playing the percentages.

Every ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Pitch Meeting

“It’s not going to be a problem at all, barely an inconvenience.”

“Wow, wow, wow, wow…. Wow.”

Rowling’s Messaging about Elections: Fictional Ministers and Mugwumps

It’s the day after Election Day in the United States, so it’s appropriate to make at least a nod of the head to the subject as treated in the fiction of J. K. Rowling.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but, with two exceptions, none of Rowling’s novels or screenplays turn on the subject of electoral democracy and its workings. What Rowling has written about how the Ministers of Magic are elected in her Wizarding World has been in a piece originally written for PotterMore, 2015’s ‘Ministers for Magic,’ and it shares nothing at all about canvassing for votes or the procedures for casting and counting votes. The Strike detective mysteries, too, though Lethal White turns on the murder of a Minister and the sausage-making in Parliament, has next to nothing about elections in it.

The two exceptions, Casual Vacancy and the screenplay for Secrets of Dumbledore (written by Steve Kloves we have to assume according to Rowling’s original plan), are as silent about the actual mechanics of democracy. They do, however, share one message about elections, a note sounded in all of Rowling’s work because it is her core belief, that I’ll discuss after the jump. [Read more…]

How to Save the Fantastic Beasts Series

Yesterday Elizabeth Baird-Hardy masterfully summarized the latest news out of Hollywood about the Fantastic Beasts movies in a post fittingly titled, No More Fantastic Beasts Films? In brief, the word is that the CEO of Warner Brothers-Discovery has lucrative franchises on his mind, wants to work with Rowling to revive the comatose Harry Potter golden goose, and that he hinted Rowling was not interested. He did not mention the Fantastic Beasts movies, which as Prof Baird Hardy noted, is in keeping with the revenues generated (or, more precisely, not generated) by the first three Beasts films.

She ended this post by asking, “If Newt’s big screen adventures are over, will there be book adaptations to connect the dots between the prequels and the beginning of Harry’s story? Do you care?” I think it is fair to say that I don’t care, maybe even obligatory to mention as I haven’t yet read the third screenplay or seen Secrets of Dumbledore. Trapped on a British Airways flight recently, I thought I would have a chance to watch it but the screening technology for the seat-backs failed, a turn I took as providential.

do care, though, about what Rowling writes, so here are my answers to those end of post questions, answers that include a more or less clear path forward to revive and reinvigorate the Beasts franchise. [Read more…]

No More Fantastic Beasts Films?

According to widely reported accounts, Warner Brothers may be shelving the Fantastic Beasts series. With the last two films getting less positive response and less box office response than theFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) - IMDb first one, it appears we may not see the remaining two stories in Newt’s series, or at least not anytime soon.  Some news stories blame controversy or the rumored feud between the studios and Rowling, but it seems far more likely that the issue is financial. According to the Internet Movie Database, the first Fantastic Beasts film grossed $814,044,001 worldwide,  but the second only grossed $654,855,901 and the third $405,161,334. Franchises are supposed to make more money with each installment, or at least have close box offices, not drop sharply in revenue. For comparison, the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone earned  $1,023,842,938 and the eighth film, the second part of The Deathly Hallows, generated $1,342,359,942. Each of the different installments had varying returns, but they all continue to be successful, generating income and running repeatedly on syndication. Warner Bros has cut other projects that were not expected to perform well.

While some outlets are declaring the Fantastic Beasts series as dead as Professor Binns, other stories are focusing on Warner Brothers’ interest in making more Harry Potter movies, with Rowling, if she is interested. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Brothers Discovery CEO David Zaslav says the studio is really interested in franchises and wants to see “if we can do something with J.K. on Harry Potter going forward.” The fact that he refers to her as “J.K.,” rather than as “Jo,” or “Rowling,” is interesting, and he also seems to be confused about the potential for more films about Harry, seeing the franchise as just another cash cow rather than as an adaptation of a book series whose books have all been adapted. Some think Warner Bros may try to move forward with a Cursed Child  adaptation, and some of the the film’s stars and director Chris Columbus seem interested, but the studio’s franchise focus may instead mean that the entire series could be getting a reboot with entirely new actors.

If Newt’s big screen adventures are over, will there be book adaptations to connect the dots between the prequels and the beginning of Harry’s story? Do you care? Thoughts, theories?