Warner Bros. Abandons Controversial ‘Harry Potter’ Franchise

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Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the rally in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'

Credit: Warner Bros.

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, the recent news has likely left you in shambles. Now, the once-iconic Harry Potter franchise will have to pack up and lock the doors to Hogwarts indefinitely.

Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) grinning in front of a crowd of Death Eaters in Harry Potter
Credit: Warner Bros

The film series and book series have developed a massive fandom, which shattered box office numbers of the time whenever a new film dropped. We have seen Harry Potterthemed experiences tour the world, theme parks such as Universal Orlando Resort develop the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, clothing apparel blow up with licensing deals with the franchise, and so much more. Now, we have seen this expansion travel worldwide, with multiple lands from Hogsmeade, to Diagon Alley and, soon, The Ministry of Magic at Epic Universe, the newest theme park in the Universal Orlando Resort expansion.

Unfortunately, the franchise does have a sort of hex on it due to the creator of the series and originator of all things Harry Potter. J.K. Rowling has time and time again shared her beliefs, which dispute transgender rights, which has left many feeling that they need to part ways with their love for the story. Although the characters themselves never share this belief, Rowling is quite vocal in hers.

Harry Potter sitting with Dumbledore in limbo
Credit: Warner Bros.

That being said, the actors associated with the series have done their best to part ways with Rowling. Not too long ago, Daniel Radcliffe, who played the titular role, hosted a round table for trans youth. Emma Watson, who played Hermione, spoke about equality at the United Nations. Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley, affirmed his support of the transgender community.

We also saw Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Rupert Grint (Ron), and Emma Watson (Hermione) talking in the Gryffindor common room during the Harry Potter Reunion special on HBO Max.

There was also many more actors from the Harry Potter cast, including fan favorites Helena Bonham Carter (Bellatrix Lestrange) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy), plus Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black), Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge), James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood).

Controversy surrounding the author came to a head when fans boycotted the open-world video game Hogwarts Legacy (2023) long before it eventually hit shelves earlier this year. The game was even banned from one of the world’s largest gaming forums.

Hogwarts at Universal Orlando Resort's Islands of Adventure
Credit: Brian McGowan via Unsplash

While the game isn’t necessarily considered canon with any of the Harry Potter books or films, it still acts as a loose prequel, taking place in the late 1800s, 80 years before the Harry Potter era, much like the Fantastic Beasts series. The game still was such a success that a sequel is now in the works.

Hogwarts Legacy serves as a loose prequel to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 1 (2010), and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2 (2011), as well as the three Fantastic Beasts films.

It’s no stretch to say that Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022) was doomed from the get-go. From J. K. Rowling locking horns with the trans community, to Johnny Depp‘s exit from the series due to his ongoing legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard, the third entry in the Harry Potter spinoff series has attracted more controversy than we could have possibly imagined.

Newt Scamander looking up at the sky in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Credit: Warner Bros.

However, it would be a lie to suggest that the problems didn’t start with the previous film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018), which was poorly received by fans and critics alike, largely due to convoluted storytelling, an abundance of subplots that go absolutely nowhere, major inconsistencies with the Harry Potter movies, and generally a lot of misdirection.

Nevertheless, it grossed over $654 million worldwide and became the tenth highest-grossing film of that year. Its follow-up, The Secrets of Dumbledore, however, marks a first-time low for the entire Harry Potter franchise, having so far collected only $43 million in the United States and Canada, which will undoubtedly come as a shock to the Wizarding World community.

So, while The Crimes of Grindelwald was a critical disaster, it looks like The Secrets of Dumbledore could be on track to be a financial one (at least by Harry Potter standards). Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) took in $74 million in North America during its opening weekend, while The Crimes of Grindelwald came in at $62 million.

A worldwide total of $193.4 million for the latest film, however, is hardly to be snuffed at, but its domestic earnings mean it has the lowest opening out of all 11 films in the entire Harry Potter franchise so far. And the bad news doesn’t just end there for the latest spinoff sequel (or prequel, however you look at it) — the film is also receiving mixed reviews from fans and critics.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Credit: Warner Bros.

The Secrets of Dumbledore saw the return of Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law), Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), Jacob Kowalski (Daniel Fogler), and Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston). This time, however, Mads Mikkelsen steps in as the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, having replaced Johnny Depp due to the storm of controversy surrounding allegations of abuse.

In 2016, JK Rowling confirmed that there would be five movies in the Fantastic Beasts series; however, that goal will not come to fruition.

As we previously reported, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zazlav spoke out on the Harry Potter franchise, speaking on its strengths and weaknesses.

He said, “One of the other real strengths of Warner Bros. is we talk about the great IP that Warner Bros. owns. But, for us, the challenge is that our content, our great IP — ‘Harry Potter’, DC, ‘Lord of the Rings’ — that content has been underused. We haven’t done anything with ‘Harry Potter’ for more than a decade.”

Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in the rally in 'Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald'
Credit: Warner Bros.

It is clear that even the Zazlav believes that the Fantastic Beasts IP is not Harry Potter, and only the original story is financially successful at this point.

Now, Total Film spoke with the film’s director David Yates, who has confirmed the dreadful fate of the franchise.

During an interview, the director got candid, explaining: “With Beasts, it’s all just parked. We made those three movies, 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. Thankfully, no one got sick, but we did have the most detailed protocols in place.”

“We’re all so proud of [Fantastic Beasts: 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,” Yates continued, presumably referencing the sequel’s negative reviews and disappointing box office takings.

Considering the CEO of Warner Bros. is not too thrilled from the outcome of the franchise, it is likely that Yates and the cast would have loved to continue, but a call was made from above, which has now forbid any forward motion on the franchise.

Mads Mikkelsen as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore
Credit: Warner Bros.

There will be more Harry Potter-related content coming out, however. 

A new HBO documentary spearheaded by Radcliffe will examine the inspiring life of his former stunt double. The prolific stuntman would endure a tragic accident on set that left Radcliffe’s doppelgänger permanently injured.

David Holmes: The Boy Who Lived will be a coming-of-age tale centered on Holmes’ journey from gifted gymnast to fearless stuntman who developed a life-long friendship with Harry Potter star, Daniel Radcliffe. His life was forever changed while working on the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. When a staged set explosion launched Holmes tumbling to the ground, the crash caused a crippling spinal injury that irreparably paralyzed him from the chest down.

As for Fantastic Beasts, that series has shut its doors.

Are you sad to hear the news about the Fantastic Beasts series? 


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