It’s long been suspected that the next installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise wouldn’t be coming to the big screen for quite some time: not only was the previous Beasts film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, ravaged by critics and met with only a middling reaction at the box-office, but there was also debate about whether or not the franchise’ star Johnny Depp was fit to remain in his role as the Wizarding World’s greatest villain after his domestic abuse scandal began to heat up again. Ezra Miller had some scheduling troubles with his upcoming Flash movie. Meanwhile, the sci-fi epic Dune nabbed the November 2020 release date that had previously been rumored to belong to Fantastic Beasts 3, leading some to believe we would see the third film in early 2021.
Alas, it is not to be. Today, Warner Brothers released a statement confirming that, while they are “proud to be the cinematic home of the Wizarding World”, they’ve made the decision to push back the third film’s release date to November 12, 2021. Considering the epic cliffhanger that the previous film left off with, this is a hard blow to those of us who actually enjoyed Crimes of Grindelwald and are excited to see where this franchise could go. Author J.K Rowling has the script apparently ready to go, and filming will begin in the spring of 2020. Previously, actor Dan Fogler had reported that the third film would be bigger than the first two Beasts movies combined – probably an overstatement, but perhaps not impossible at this point: the official reason given for delaying Fantastic Beasts 3 is that it will “give the filmmakers time and space to allow their artistry to truly flourish”, which sounds pretty good, all things considered. Crimes of Grindelwald was rushed through its production and, as much as I loved the film, it certainly had major flaws: the characters felt only half-baked compared to how vibrant and unique they were in Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them; multiple plots and subplots branched out without solid resolutions; and, worst of all for Wizarding World fans, there were a number of peculiar and nagging retcons or continuity errors, none more infamous (or notorious) than the appearance of Professor Minerva McGonagall years before her established birthdate in the Harry Potter canon. More time to work on the film could have made it a worthier sequel to the first Fantastic Beasts installment, and might have made it more of a critical darling – or a box-office hit. As it was neither, it’s no surprise that the studio is taking steps to insure the franchise gets back on a smoother track: according to Rowling, there will be five films when all is said and done. If Fantastic Beasts 3 winds up in the same unfavorable position as its predecessor, we might never see 4 and 5.
Hopefully, having more time to perfect the script and edit out unnecessary filler material (did we really need to see Yusuf Kama’s eye-surgery, or Newt Scamander’s escapade with a Kelpie in Crimes of Grindelwald?), or unnecessary fan-services (looking at you, McGonagall, and you, Nicolas Flamel), will only benefit the final film. Even though we now have a much longer wait ahead of us, we can rest assured that what we get in the end could be that much better.