MsMojo: Secrets of Dumbledore’s Answered and Unanswered Questions thought Secrets of Dumbledore was a bomb. See their ‘Fantastic Beasts: Secrets of Dumbledore’ Film Review: There’s Little Magic Left in This Sagging Franchise for the full take-down but the high points of their low estimation are that it dropped any connection with the previous film (wasn’t Grindelwald promising to stop WWII?), that the characters are just “story-telling devices” without development or transformation (what happened to Newt Scamander? Tina Goldstein? y’know, the stars of the first two films?), and Yates’ reimagining the story as an “espionage thriller” and the “chilly, desaturated cinematography by George Richmond” don’t give a movie-goer “much to grab on to” “unless you are extremely invested in wizarding elections.” Ouch.

But maybe that was just a hyper-critical journo demonstrating to the guild that he is definitely not on board with “J. K. Rowling’s shameful anti-trans rhetoric”? The key failing of the film after all, in his reporting, is that “it’s hard not to subtract even more points for [Secrets] making the Wizarding World’s only gay love affair indelibly linked with Dumbledore’s brief teenage dalliance with fascism.” tells us now in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Franchise May Be Finished, But J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Is Not that the box-office was a great disappointment to Warner Brothers and that continuing with the series “may be damaging to the [Wizarding World] brand:

The domestic opening weekend for “Secrets of Dumbledore” was 31% down from the $62 million opening of “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” a sequel poorly received by both critics and “Harry Potter” fans. While “Secrets” has received slightly better audience reception, the $191 million global launch is down 25% from “Crimes of Grindelwald,” which likely means it will be the first “Harry Potter” or Wizarding World film to fall short of the $500 million mark.

Even considering the lingering impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on some overseas markets like China, these numbers aren’t the ones any studio would like to see for a $200 million tentpole that’s supposed to be part three of a five-part film series.

While the off-camera scandals and controversy surrounding J.K. Rowling and former series star Johnny Depp may have had some impact, it’s more likely that the blend of world-building and “Potter” prequel plotlines in “Fantastic Beasts” just aren’t resonating with casual moviegoers the way Harry Potter’s journey at Hogwarts did in the 2000s.

“‘The Crimes of Grindelwald’ just soured audiences in a way that ‘Fantastic Beasts’ was going to have a hard time coming back from,” Exhibitor Relations analyst Jeff Bock said. “When the numbers dip that precipitously, there’s no doubt that there’s a lack of desire to see this story continue. I would go as far to say that doing another ‘Fantastic Beasts’ would be damaging for the brand.”

Warner is still several weeks, if not months, from deciding the fate of continuing the “Fantastic Beasts” franchises, one of many choices that the studio will make as the Warner Bros. Discovery transition continues under CEO David Zaslav. But even if the plug is pulled, don’t expect the newly merged company to cut down on its larger plans to build the Wizarding World beyond Harry and his friends.

“‘Fantastic Beasts’ was always meant to be one piece of a larger plan to build the Wizarding World,” Warner Bros. domestic distribution head Jeff Goldstein told TheWrap. “While the numbers for ‘Secrets of Dumbledore’ were lower than the previous films, we still think the series has done its job keeping Wizarding World fresh in people’s minds, and we’re pleased with the revenue we’ve seen from the franchise at theme parks, stores, and other products and experiences.”

One plan being floated, according to the Skeeter Rumor Mill, is that the franchise will shift from blockbuster film status to direct-to-streaming at HBO Max. I don’t get a vote, of course, but I think that would be great — if Rowling’s Bronte Studios gets to oversee the production…

What I find curious is that with so many critics giving the third film of the series thumbs down reviews and quite a few suggesting that the franchise be put out of its misery in a mercy killing by bean counters, why so few people have tallied where this story stands. Is it really credible to leave as many strings unresolved at this point? Whence my choosing the video from ‘MsMojo’ that heads this post. It’s clear from her ten points that it wouldn’t be a mercy to kill the story at this point but a murder.

My suggestion and not so private hope is that the film makers take a break, allow Rowling to publish the five books in the series, and then adapt those novels into films. That was the formula that made this franchise work.

Tomorrow a wild theory about the “wizarding election” that is the drama fulcrum in Secrets and the next day a longish look at Rowling’s twelve part twitter thread in an unintentionally but bitterly ironic quotation, call it,  ‘The TERF Who Cried SERF.’ 


  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    “My suggestion and not so private hope is that the film makers take a break, allow Rowling to publish the five books in the series, and then adapt those novels into films.” Would it be likely that she would publish novels 4 and 5 first, in any case, but also with an eye to this as a probably secondary effect – that film versions of 4 and 5 would be more likely – amd likely to be better, then?

  2. The only chance this has of happening is because of the opening created by the timeline of the stories. The few references I have seen to a date for ‘Secrets’ have uniformly been “sometime in the 30’s.” Beasts5 and its presumed to the death duel between DDore and GGwald takes place in 1945. With as much as a decade before the next film needs to come out so the actors can age appropriately, there is plenty of time for Rowling to write up her true “original script” notes, a collection that the Tina-actress said was as large as a book and full of incredible detail (kept under lock and key on set for consultation during the filming of the first movie).

    Given the need for Warner Brothers to put out regular blockbusters for sustenance of the Wizarding World brand, there’s no way that happens, but it’s pleasant enough as an idle fancy.

  3. Sabine Lechtenfeld says

    I saw FB 3 a week ago. And while there were only two people besides me in the theater during a mid-week late-night screening – which meant that I felt comfortable enough to watch the movie without a mask – FB 3 seems to do fairly well at the German box office. Maybe because the German reviews have been fairly benign 😉
    I was one of the few people who actually liked FB 2. Yes, it was flawed, but it set up very intriguing story lines, and I liked the darker atmosphere. I hoped that FB 3 would be less confusing and pick up where the second movie stopped – and hopefully answer a few questions along the way. Unfortunately I have to say that I really disliked FB 3! I do not agree that it was better than the previous installment. The plot was mostly contrived and/or ridiculous, and most character developments were either implausible or have been neglected. The only things which I truly enjoyed, was the new Grindelwald, who was a huge improvement. While I feel truly bad for Johnny Depp as a human being, I really disliked his cartoonish Grindelwald, who made it totally implausible that Dumbledore used to love him and possibly still had some tender feelings for this vile creature. This problem has been solved, but many others still remain.

    Mild spoiler alert:

    The other thing which I liked was the Quilin – maybe, because it looks like a cross breed of Bambi and my dog. It tugged at my heart strings, and I felt incredibly sad that his mother, just like Bambi’s mother, and his twin had to die. Somehow I didn’t really root that much for all the other characters.

    Bigger spoiler:

    The revelation that Credence is indeed a Dumbledore, although not Albus’s brother, as Grindelwald had insinuated, but his nephew, is not terrible. But I feel a bit conned because we were all looking for a long lost brother. However, it’s not quite clear, if this was just a cheap misdirection, or if Grindelwald genuinely did not know better. Right now I suspect the latter, especially since it has not been explained so far, how Grindelwald even found out that Credence was a Dumbledore in the first place. Most fans suggest that he deducted this because Credence had managed to survive his obscurus for so long. But I do not buy this explanation because it is far too vague. Grindelwald must have had a bit more precise information. Why did Grindelwald even move to NYC in the first place when he was on the run, and why did he decide to impersonate specifically Percival Graves, which led him eventually to Credence? All this remains still unexplained – just as the identity of Credence’s mother is still a secret. We only know that Aberforth met and fell in love with her in Godric’s Hollow. I have found a few very plausible theories, though.
    Right now I am ok with Aberforth as the father of Credence, since it is not a terrible retcon, and it might become more plausible later. Not everything, which seems strange so far, is a true plot hole. After all, JK has not finished her story, yet.
    The biggest question is if there actually will be more FB movies! Besides the very mediocre quality of the 2nd and the 3rd installment, this franchise has been hit by so many external problems which have nothing to do with JK Rowling’s narrative, that I suspect that there must have been an antidote against Professor Slughorn’s good-luck potion at work!

  4. Sabine Lechtenfeld says

    John, I agree with you that many critics who have written bad reviews, are far too obsessed with JKR’s overall narrative and the still unsolved mysteries. We are just in the middle of the franchise for crying out loud! The story JKR wants to tell, is not finished, and not everything we do not know or don’t understand just yet, is a plot hole or a retcon! While I did not enjoy FB 3 as a movie viewing experience for various reasons, I still have faith in JKR as a story teller and a mystery writer.
    It’s possible that the franchise will be dormant for quite a while. The 3rd installment did have a mildly satisfying conclusion. We know now that no confusticating magic prevents Dumbledore anymore to take on Grindelwald himself if necessary. The stage is set for taking the elder wand out of Grindelwald’s paws. We also know that Credence is indeed a Dumbledore, and that he is not the product of an alchemical experiment. He was sired the old fashioned way, and unlike Voldemort, Credence may have even be the product of true love. Finally we even got a small happy end, and the movie didn’t introduce another obvious cliffhanger or a new mystery. However, there are so many very important unresolved questions and incomplete narrative threads which have not even been touched in FB 3. I would be sad if we will never know the complete narrative.
    I have the sinking feeling that too many people have meddled with the 3rd FB installment because the 2nd FB movie has been declared to be a total failure – which IHMO it wasn’t. When JKR writes novels, she is the one who calls the shots, and usually she is good at it! And for an accomplished writer a mediocre or even a bad novel isn’t a financial disaster which threatens to shut down a series prematurely. Making movies is a different animal alltogether, and JKR may not have forseen that it can be a problem to create a consistent and satisfying narrative arc by writing scripts instead of novels. She might have thought that by writing the scripts herself she could skip the novels and use her magic quill for creating movies which are true to her original vision – which was not always the case with the HP movies! Most of them were quite mediocre. But too many people with often very diverging interests are part of the production team. And the financial stakes are much higher for blockbusters.
    Since JKR clearly isn’t an experienced script writer and it showed, I had hoped that Steve Kloves’ assistence might iron out a few problems. But IMO that didn’t work out at all.

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