Movies

WB Had an Ultimate Wizarding World Franchise, Ruined It Completely

Image credit: Legion-Media

Warner Bros. was given a fantastical universe with J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter novels – the magical tale of a powerful young wizard in the battle against evil.

Only a few years after the books' release, they created a film franchise that would eventually become the fourth highest-grossing series in cinematic history.

Five years after Harry Potter's final movie, WB expanded the series beyond just Harry Potter into the Wizarding World. They were trying to mimic the shared universe approach that Marvel had popularized and many more had adopted, using established worlds and characters to automatically draw fans in.

The 2016 prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was meant to bring an entirely new generation of fans into Rowling's universe, ideally releasing film after film detailing every aspect of the Wizarding World.

But six years later, WB has failed.

The three Fantastic Beast movies – released in 2016, 2018, and 2022 – had three of the four highest budgets of all 11 Wizarding World movies but three of the four lowest box office grosses. The latest, The Secrets of Dumbledore, had the lowest with $405 million. The lowest Harry Potter film was The Prisoner of Azkaban with $790 million. Critics haven't been kind to the new series either, garnering some of the worst critical ratings of the franchise.

A Harry Potter Spell That Definitely Should Be Unforgivable (But Isn't)

Part of the reason the Fantastic Beasts films have failed comes from behind-the-scenes issues. Johnny Depp's controversial divorce and abuse accusations led to him being recast as Gellert Grindelwald. Ezra Miller has had a mountain of legal issues stemming from his manic behavior. Even the mastermind of the Wizarding World, J.K. Rowling, has become a divisive figure after her repeated anti-trans comments.

On-screen, the biggest issue is the films' character direction. The Harry Potter films were popular because of the characters and their journey more so than the magic they used. Harry was someone everyone could love, and audiences saw him grow over 11 years. Fantastic Beasts didn't use that successful structure, choosing instead to shift the focus character every movie.

While the premise of Fantastic Beasts sounds very interesting, the films themselves proved less than stellar and had a serious problem with continuity. The Harry Potter franchise was already full of plot holes, and the new trilogy, desperately trying to stand on its own feet, only made things worse as it was increasingly impossible to stay in canon with all the big time jumps happening. In a series with as passionate a fanbase as Harry Potter, that's a grave mistake. The trilogy desperately tried to stand on its own feet and failed.

Should Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Be Made Into a Movie?

David Zaslav, head of Warner Bros. film studio, said he was interested in doing more Harry Potter content. That wording seems intentional; they'll likely go back to their roots by focusing on the young wizard – one of cinematic history's most popular characters – rather than continue to expand on their universe. There have been talks of a new HBO Max series as well as a cinematic adaptation of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a spin-off play.

While WB's last few Wizarding World projects have failed, it's still a goldmine of a property to own. It's only a matter of time before the universe expands once more – this time done right.

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