“Fantastic Beasts” returns with its third installment this weekend. Do fans still find it magical?
A lot has changed in the roughly four years since the release of the previous “Fantastic Beasts” movie.
Animosity towards designer JK Rowling over her views on the transgender community, which some have labeled as transphobic, has grown.
Actor Mads Mikkelsen has replaced Johnny Depp as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald following backlash around Depp, who is in a libel legal battle with his ex-wife Amber Heard, who he claims is the falsely described as a domestic abuser in an opinion piece published in the Washington Post.
More recently, Ezra Miller, who plays Credence on the show, was arrested after allegedly harassing customers at a karaoke bar in Hawaii. Miller was charged with disorderly conduct and harassment and was released after posting $500 bond, the Associated Press reported.
Now, as “Fantastic Beasts: Dumbledore’s Secrets,” the third film in the “Harry Potter” prequel franchise, debuts in theaters this weekend, the question remains: did fans stick around?
For some, it’s obvious to skip the movies, given Rowling’s controversial comments in recent years.
“Why would anyone see ‘Fantastic Beasts’?” said Jake Stremel, 29, who voiced similar thoughts on Twitter.
Stremel is one of many to say the books and movies had an impact on their childhood. But, he said, “by the time ‘Fantastics Beasts’ came around, Rowling had left her standing, and her reputation was ruined by then.”
For years, Stremel noted, people have pointed out that there are problematic elements in “Harry Potter” itself: for example, how the goblin bankers who run the Gringotts Wizarding Bank echo Jewish cartoons.
“Rowling was always sensitive to that, and she tried to hold back as much as possible,” he said. “She seemed to care about looking good and was very liberal. By the time she started to really flirt with transphobia and stuff like that, that… I don’t know if surprising is the word for it, but it was like that. out of nowhere.”
Rowling made headlines for her views in 2019, when she publicly supported Maya Forstater, a British tax expert who lost her job after posting tweets deemed anti-trans. In 2020, Rowling mocked a headline that used the phrase “menstruating,” which trans advocates say is meant to include trans men and non-binary people who still menstruate.
She later doubled down on her views in a nearly 4,000-word blog post that some critics on Twitter called “overtly transphobic.” In a tweet sharing the blog post, Rowling wrote, “TERF wars.” TERF stands for Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminist, a term critics have called the author.
Daniel Radcliffe, who starred in Harry Potter, and Eddie Redmayne, who stars in the ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ series, have both said publicly that they disagree with Rowling.
A spokesperson for Rowling did not respond to a request for comment.
There’s also been controversy surrounding Depp, which began after he was cast in the second installment, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” The news was confirmed after Depp made an appearance in the first film, ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’, released in 2016.
Some “Potter” fans weren’t happy, as the casting coincided with Depp’s divorce from Heard in 2016, which for years grabbed headlines due to allegations made by both parties.
In May 2016, Heard, who co-starred with Depp in 2011’s “The Rum Diary,” cited irreconcilable differences after 15 months of marriage and obtained a protective order from Depp after claiming domestic violence had peaked. May 21 – when he punched her in the face with a cell phone. Depp has denied those allegations.
Rowling defended the casting decision in an article on her website in 2017.
In 2020, Depp lost his libel case against British tabloid The Sun after describing him as a “wife beater”. Shortly after, Depp shared in an Instagram post that Warner Bros. had asked him to resign, “and I have respected and accepted this request”, he wrote.
Now another case is ongoing in Fairfax County, Virginia. Some die-hard Depp fans have come forward in person to express their support for the actor.
Depp’s lawyers accused Heard of “fabricating domestic violence charges against him in order to further his own career,” according to Variety. Heard’s attorney “argued that Depp was seeking to ruin Heard’s life by continuing the lawsuit,” Variety reported.
Others choose to separate the art from the artist
For other “Harry Potter” fans, especially older millennials, the relationship with the franchise is more complicated.
Jacklyn Krol, 29, who grew up on the beloved ‘Harry Potter’ series, is among those who said they chose to separate art from artist.
“I know there’s a lot of controversy around [‘Fantastic Beasts’]”said Krol, a Chicago-based writer and photojournalist who has fond memories of watching all the movies with her late father.
“I was on the fence for a while about watching [‘Fantastic Beasts’]. … Like, I want to see how this story ends, but I don’t want to give all my money to it,” she said.
Ultimately, Krol said she remains a fan of the Potterverse and plans to see the third episode in part because she wants to honor her father.
This person with not great views has created a magical universe. The universe itself should be appreciated, but obviously not Rowling’s actions or comments.
Jacklyn Krol, fan of “harry potter”
“I wish there was a version not written by JK-Rowling,” she added. But “this person with not great views created a magical universe. The universe itself should be appreciated, but obviously not Rowling’s actions or comments.”
At the end of the day, Krol said she felt the films continued “Potter’s” legacy. “It’s for future generations,” she says.
The latest film, directed by “Harry Potter” veteran David Yates, also taps into what fans love most: the source material. It focuses on the backstory of Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore (played by Jude Law), who, it’s revealed, had a romantic past with Grindelwald.
Paul Weiner, a Denver-based artist, said he loves the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise “because it gives us so much context about the wizarding world, especially Dumbledore and Grindelwald.”
“I understand that a lot of people just want an excuse to complain about JK Rowling now because of her politics, but I don’t understand how a ‘Harry Potter’ fan can want to see less of the wizarding world,” Weiner, 28, said.
Weiner said he finds the controversy surrounding Rowling “fascinating” because he “has seen people in the art world get away with much worse than what Rowling has and continue to be part of that community. , although the art world is much further away from the public eye.”
“This is not to excuse Rowling because political differences shape the creative process and the outcome of work,” he added. “What I find intriguing is the willingness to accept Rowling’s ideology when it’s so deeply and masterfully embedded in the ‘Harry Potter’ series, but the same fans are put off by the expanded universe in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.” It may have to do with the reluctance to let go of a beloved childhood story that has been a formative experience, shaping the way many young millennials like me respond to mainstream culture. way.”
For some, like Noah Carolan, the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise served as an entry into the “Harry Potter” world. Although Carolan, 21, said he found Rowling’s past comments “disgusting”, he has come to love the wizarding world.
Fantastic Beasts “seemed like a good starting point for a ‘Harry Potter’ newbie, not needing to know a lot before watching,” said Carolan, who lives in Norwich, England. “A new start.”
The fate of the ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise up in the air
Aside from the controversies surrounding the “Fantastic Beasts” franchise, many “Harry Potter” fans have said they simply aren’t as invested in the spinoff because they take issue with the movies’ plot.
The first film, which followed magizoologist Newt Scamander (Redmayne), generated pretty strong reviews, with 74% on the Tomatometer score on Rotten Tomatoes.
Critics were less impressed with the second film. A reviewer for the Los Angeles Times, who called “The Crimes of Grindelwald” “Dumble’s big snore”, wrote in the review that the film “is somehow both hectic and leaden, a thing of a mediocrity exhausting and overwhelming”. Another reviewer, for Variety, called it “a confusing mix of new characters and eye-crossing misfits”.
Early reviews for the third film are mixed, though many praised Mikkelsen’s performance as Grindelwald. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a Tomatometer score of 51%. Some fans online have already bemoaned a plot involving Hogwarts teacher Minerva McGonagall.
Jeffrey Zhang, editor of the Strange Harbors site — which covers film, TV and popular culture — tweeted that he thinks the franchise “would have made billions of dollars if it was actually about capturing wacky magical animals instead of Grundlefly misdemeanors or whatever now.”
The fate of the franchise remains uncertain. According to a recent report from Variety, executives at Warner Bros. are waiting to see how “Dumbledore’s Secrets” fares before giving the green light for the fourth and fifth movies.
Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The film, which comes as the movie industry continues to struggle to get people to theaters in the wake of the pandemic, is aiming to earn at least $40 million from 4,200 North American theaters during its opening weekend. opening, Variety reported. It opened at the international box office earlier this month with around $58 million from 22 overseas markets.
At this time, Variety reported, there is no script for a fourth film.