Harry Potter filmmaker confirms that ‘Fantastic Beasts’ franchise is “on pause”

'Fantastic Beasts' director confirms that the Harry Potter spinoff franchise is "Parked," by Warner Bros
Credit: Warner Bros

Looks like the Petrificus Totalus spell has landed upon Fantastic Beasts! 

The enchanting film series within The Wizarding World was directed by David Yates, as it was an original spin-off prequel that had a major association with the beloved Harry Potter franchise.

It was set seventy years before the adventures of Harry Potter and followed the adventures of its fictional author, Newt Scamander. The initial idea of this spinoff helped breathe new life into J.K. Rowling’s billion-dollar universe by generating a lot of buzz and excitement among die-hard Rowling fans, which encouraged Warner Bros. to invest in the film series to explore the new chapter.

But after having three fantasy films in the series, beginning with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and following with Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) and Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (2022), the last saw a theatrical release in 2022 since its inception as part of the five-feature plan confirmed by Rowling, it looks like the future of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ has already started to take a tumble.

As more uncertainty surrounds the franchise, future plans have been lingering over the heads of individuals associated with the project.

If you recall, Producer David Heyman previously revealed that work on the script for Fantastic Beasts 4 had not yet begun as Variety also reported that Warner Bros. greenlighting the final two installments would be dependent on the critical and commercial performance of The Secrets of Dumbledore. Sadly, the third movie received mixed reviews from critics, though it was generally considered an improvement over its predecessor.

It was a box-office bomb and grossed over $407 million worldwide, making it the lowest-grossing film in the Wizarding World franchise.

Since then, many reports have emphasized that Warner Bros. Discovery had no Wizarding World films in active development and was not in “active discussions” with Rowling regarding the future of the franchise, leaving the future of the Fantastic Beasts series in limbo. To add more fuel to the fire, in October 2023, director David Yates also discussed the future plans and made comments that the franchise had been “parked” following the third film. 

In a new interview on Inside Total Film Podcast, director David Yates said:

“With ‘Beasts,’ it’s all just parked,” Yates remarked. “We made those three movies, the last one through a pandemic, and it was enormous fun but it was tough. We were actually filming when there wasn’t a vaccine. Thankfully, no one got sick, but we did have the most detailed protocols in place.”  Yates added, “We’re all so proud of [‘Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore’] and when it went out into the world, we just needed to sort of stop and pause and take it easy.”

He also disclosed that the idea of it being a five-film franchise by Rowling had been a “surprise” as it was never communicated to him and many had only initially committed to doing a single film.

“The idea that there were going to be five films was a surprise to most of us,” Yates said.

“Jo just mentioned it spontaneously, at a press screening once. No one had told us there were going to be five, we’d committed to the first one… I’m sure at some point, we’ll be back. But yeah, I haven’t spoken to Jo, I haven’t spoken to [producer] David Heyman, I haven’t spoken to Warner Bros; we’re just taking a pause. It’s quite nice. It allows me to do stuff like this (referring to Netflix pharmaceutical crime drama, Pain Hustlers.”

“Having spent such a long time making films about wizards, I wanted to do a film in the real world and a social-issue driven, but one that wasn’t too earnest and serious,” Yates previously told Variety before the film’s world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. “I wanted to tell a story that was entertaining and funny in a subversive kind of way. I’m moving from a heightened world of J.K. Rowling, but I’m not going straight to kitchen-sink drama. The characters here are so heightened and crazy and the world is so intense.”

Even though the future plans of J.K. Rowling spinoff features for Fantastic Beasts remain parked by Warner Bros., a new project has already been greenlighted within the Wizarding World Universe that has raised the interest of the fandom more than ever! HBO is busy in the works for a brand new Harry Potter streaming series on Max, which was announced back in April before Hollywood’s double WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes commenced. 

It’s unclear whether Yates will continue to be connected with the next series.  But, he told Deadline, “Never say never,” and that he was “excited about moving on” beyond the fantasy juggernaut. “I have other projects on my desk which are a million miles away from wizards and involved all sorts of things which are non-wizard associated,” added Yates.