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The Wizarding World: Is There a Future For J.K. Rowling’s Franchise?

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The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter made headlines recently with the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, but not for a good reason. After what was originally intended as a five-part story, the box office and critical disappointment seems to have put the Fantastic Beast franchise on thin ice and leaving the future of the wider Wizarding World franchise in doubt. It is hard to imagine that a film connected to the Harry Potter franchise was out-grossed by Sonic the Hedgehog 2, yet that is the reality of the situation.

The Harry Potter franchise was one of the biggest franchises of the 21st century. Each film in the series ranked in the box office top 10 the years they were released. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the highest-grossing film of 2001 and broke the opening weekend record at the time and then ten years later Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2

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broke the opening weekend record again and went on to become the highest-grossing film of 2011.

With a highly popular film and book series, as well as a popular destination at various Universal Studios theme parks around the globe, it made a great deal of sense to make more films set in the universe, particularly after Disney purchased Star Wars in 2012 and not only announced Episode VII, VIII, and IX but also spin-off films. The franchise rebranded from Harry Potter to The Wizarding World, partially inspired by the Universal Studios theme park, to move the franchise beyond the title character.

Fantastic Beast and Where To Find Them was released in 2016 and was a box office hit, although critical and fan reaction was slightly muted. The 2018 sequel, Fantastic Beast: The Crimes of Grindlewald, was the first time a film in the Wizarding World franchise received a rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was the lowest-grossing entry at that point. Despite Warner Bros.’ best efforts, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore was a box office disappointment and the studio is now reassessing its plans for the Wizarding World franchise (especially after the legal problems of Ezra Miller and Johnny Depp, stars of the Fantastic Beasts series).

Yet how did one of the most successful media franchises in the world get to this point, and can it ever recover? What decisions can Warner Bros. make to help the series bounce back, and what place does J.K. Rowling have in the franchise she created? This is how The Wizarding World franchise can recover.

On the surface, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them seemed like an ideal spin-off of the Harry Potter franchise that could introduce a new lead character. The premise sounded like a return to the early Potter films as a fun family adventure that if successful could continue in sequels where the lead character journeyed to new places collecting more colorful creatures. That is not what happened though, as the film attempted to tie the movie’s story into the larger Wizarding World mythos of Dumbledore and Grindlewald, doubling down in the sequel with more references and callbacks to satisfy the hardcore fans of the series. Instead of allowing the series to grow into its own thing, it was shackled to the past.

Related: Harry Potter: Major References to Ancient Mythology

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