Although a new Harry Potter movie 2022 might have seemed improbable for audiences in 2011 as the story of our beloved wizard-boy was coming to an end, renewed interest in J.K Rowling’s fantastical universe has prompted the invention of the Fantastic Beasts movies- a spin-off to the Harry Potter franchise. The Secrets of Dumbledore, the latest installment into the series following Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Crimes of Grindelwald, were released earlier this year in April to mixed responses amidst controversies around the film’s production. Let us see what critics and audiences are saying about a new Harry Potter movie in 2022- if the franchise quality still holds up after two decades.
A Tumoulous Background
Although Warner Bros Pictures announced plans for the Fantastic Beasts franchise as early as 2014, it wasn’t until the first film concluded shooting that the studio would declare plans for the series to be comprised of five films. Its leading actor, Eddie Redmayne would return to reprise his character as Newt Scamander in all upcoming projects, with J.K Rowling and David Yates helming the creative leadership positions as writer and director of all five installments.
The Secrets of Dumbledore was initially intended to be released in November 2020. However, difficult production conditions eventually postponed its release date until April 2022. The First date of principal photography was supposed to be held on 16 March 2020 but was then delayed on the same day due to an urgent lockdown in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The new shooting date was scheduled until 20 September with new safety protocols for the safety cast and crew safe from COVID-19. Production in Britain then shortly paused in February after a crew member tested positive for the virus, further hindering the film’s completion.
By 2020, much of the original cast from the first two installments have confirmed their return except for Kevin Guthrie, who played Abernathy in previous films, due to his trial and conviction of sexual assault causing him to be fired before production started.
Johnny Depp was another notable case, as he was initially supposed to reprise his role as Grindelwald in The Secrets of Dumbledore. Depp himself also confirmed this return in October 2018 with Warner Bros’ original intention to start production during mid-2019. However, with production pushed til 2020, he had only filmed three scenes before he requested to resign from the role due to negative publicity resulting from a libel case in Britain finding him culpable against allegations of domestic violence against his ex-wife Amber Heard (Depp later retrialed Amber Heard in the U.S). Regardless, Depp was compensated an unspecified amount of somewhere between $10–16 million dollars due to the violation of his contract.
Warner Bros announced that Mads Mikkelsen would replace Depp as Gerrel Grindleward following that month, with filming resuming until February 2021. Although Warner Bros’ decision to let Depp go was met with positive press, it also attracted a lot of controversies as well as isolated a part of its audiences who found the judgment to be unfair to Depp.
To further add fuel to the fire, Harry Potter author J.K Rowling, who also serves as the creative leader of the Fantastic Beasts series, was constantly in the news for transphobic comments that openly discriminate against the transgender community. Although Rowling’s behaviors didn’t result in any studio actions similar to Depp’s case (on the contrary, Warner Bros had gone out of there way to protect her), it did isolate a large portion of the franchise audiences who no longer wish to support any of Rowling’s further works as well as prompted the original Harry Potter cast to denounce her remarks.
How Does The New Films Fare with Former Audiences?
The first installment of Fantastic Beast was a certified smash hit, generating $234 million domestically and $580 million internationally for a total of $814 million on a budget of $175 million. It also received generally favorable reviews from critics and audiences alike.
Currently holding a rating of 74% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 343 reviews with an average rating of 6.8/10. The critics’ consensus reads Fantastic Beasts to be rich mythology to deliver a spin-off that dazzles with franchise-building magic all its own. On Metacritic, the film received a weighted score of 66 out of 100, based on 50 critics’ reviews. Many critics praise the film for rich and complex world-building, with particular focus on its baroque and exuberant visuals that ostensibly appeal to audiences’ inner-child spirit.
The audience’s initial reaction polled by CinemaScore assigned the film an average grade of “A” on an A+ to F scale, generally considering it a delightful and entertaining feast and a decent opening to the Fantastic Beasts series. The film also later goes on to win an Oscar for Best Costume Design, making it the first film in the Wizarding World to earn an Academy Award.
Although the first film was nowhere near perfect, it was nevertheless a promising entry to a potential-filled series. However, all these efforts soon came crumbling down in the second installment, generally considered to be by far the worst film in the franchise.
The Crimes of Grindelwald holds the lowest rating of any Wizarding World film on any review aggregator website. On Rotten Tomatoes, it receives a rating of 36% from 333 reviews, with an average score of 5.3/10. On Metacritic, the film has a score of 52 out of 100 based on 48 critics, with most reviews panning it for its weak and huddled writing that attempts to overstuff too much plotting over its 2-hours runtime. CinemaScore likewise gave the film an average grade of “B+” based on initial audience responses, the lowest of the franchise.
Grossing $654.9 million worldwide against a budget of $200 million, although The Crimes of Grindelwald made nowhere as much as its predecessor, it was still profitable enough for Warner Brothers to greenlit another Fantastic Beasts film to be released in 2022. But Crimes of Grindelwald has left too large of a hole in the audience’s expectation for the third film to recuperate from.
As a result, The Secrets of Dumbledore faced an uphill challenge of having to deal with both the franchise’s previous creative failures and the physical troubles surrounding the film’s production to still come out with a final result great enough to be able to regain everyone’s hearts and minds.
A New Harry Potter Movie 2022: What to Make Sense of It?
The Secrets of Dumbledore was released in April 2022 to less than stellar performance. Faring barely any better with critics and audiences than Crimes of Grindelwald, the series was no longer able to run on the sheer hype of the franchise alone now that the tides are turning the other way around.
The film receives an approval rating of 46% based on 232 reviews, with an average rating of 5.4/10 on Rotentomatoes, with the critic’s consensus stating that although it manages to avoid some of the pitfalls of its predecessor, it still lacks much of the magic from the earlier films. Metacritic gave the film an average score of 47 out of 100 based on 49 reviews, ranking even lower than Crimes of Grindelwal.
Many critics continue to point to Rowling’s overt ambitions and avarice to expanse on the universe world-building by cramming in too many plotlines as the core reason for the film’s failures. Despite the series’ return to its lighthearted form from Crimes of Grindelwald‘s attempt at a grimmer and grittier tone, critics remain unimpressed at the film’s rollercoaster of subplots. TheWrap’s William Bibbiani calls the film “purposeless” and “meaningless.” Meanwhile, critic Lovia Gyarkye from The Hollywood Reporter said that the movie was “an endurance test” from the excess amount of plotting throughout its two hours.
Audiences polling by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of “B+”, the lowest of the franchise along with The Crimes of Grindelwald. There was also some frustration amongst the more progressive audience regarding Rowling’s handling of Dumbledore’s identity in the film. Although Dumbledore’s queerness has long been revealed to the public by J.K Rowling, she still chooses to have his identity remain subtextual in all her works, including The Secrets of Dumbledore. This deliberate creative decision has stirred some outrage amongst her LGBTQ audience, who saw her actions as cowardice and pandering in poor taste.
Not everything bad comes out from the film, as a particular focus in some reviews has sought to praise Mads Mikkelsen as Grindelwald, with many considering him to deliver a far more menacing and convincing performance than Johnny Depp in previous films.
However, Mikkelsen alone couldn’t save the film from performing poorly at the box office. Grossing a measly total of $405.2 million worldwide against a $200 production budget excluding prints and advertising costs. Although The Secrets of Dumbledore has managed to do decently enough in a post-Covid theatrical release to break even, it still suffers from what is too much of a ticket sales drop to the previous films to be considered as profitable anymore.
With the final two installments of the Fantastic Beast being dependent on the critical and commercial success of The Secrets of Dumbledore, it seems far-fetched that we would be seeing a fourth Fantastic Beast movie being in the works any time soon. Even though it’s unlikely that Warner Brothers wouldn’t want to produce new content over their ownership of the Wizarding World franchise, there’s still a grim possibility that the new Harry Potter movie 2022 could be our last Harry Potter movie ever.