When Fantastic Beasts was first announced, Warner Bros. proudly boasted that it would be the start of a five-movie franchise. And at the conclusion of the first film, which earned a healthy $800M worldwide, it looked like that was definitely going to happen. Then there was scandal; from abuse allegations about Johnny Depp leading to his firing, to transphobic comments by author/screenwriter JK Rowling, followed by The Crimes of Grindelwald plummeting to $650M earned. With the recent Ezra Miller situation causing more embarrassment, and little buzz surrounding The Secrets of Dumbledore, WB finds itself in a tough situation.
According to Variety, WB isn’t sure they want to dump more money into the Fantastic Beasts franchise. At $200M a pop pre-marketing, that’s a lot of coin to spend on movies that are increasingly for a niche audience.
WB has tried to correct the apparent lack of interest by bringing in franchise scribe Steve Kloves to co-write the screenplay with Rowling. So far, the response to The Secrets of Dumbledore is considerably better, and that could lead to a box office rebound. That said, it also might not. Of concern is the revelation of a romantic relationship between two male characters that could alienate some audiences not just domestically but internationally. Already, the scene is being removed from theaters in China.
Basically, the fate of the franchise depends on The Secrets of Dumbledore. If it does well, it’s full steam ahead. If not, then we might see the attention turned elsewhere.