The Harry Potter movies are among the most beloved fantasy flicks of all time, so when the series ended in 2011, it was only a matter of time before the wizarding world was expanded into prequels and spinoffs.
Sure enough, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was announced in 2013, and though you'd expect anything linked to the Potter world would be a surefire success for the studio, this not-so-magical sub-franchise has been anything but.
Despite the first film being well-received and J.K. Rowling being keen to crank out four additional sequels, the negative reception to 2018's The Crimes of Grindelwald proved the wizarding world isn't bulletproof, and now, the third entry in the series - The Secrets of Dumbledore - feels like it's put the final nail in the coffin for Newt Scamander and his pals.
So, what exactly went wrong? How are we at a point where a wizarding world movie can't even crack $400 million worldwide, less than half the gross of your average Potter flick? Well, as is the case with any ailing franchise, a multitude of reasons have contributed to The Secrets of Dumbledore's underperformance, from real-world controversies, to a frustrating amount of poor creative decisions.
8. Combining Newt, Dumbledore, And Grindelwald's Stories Has Never Been A Good Idea
The Fantastic Beasts franchise has been flawed from the start, with the baffling decision to combine two completely unrelated stories leaving these movies feeling half-baked, unfocused, and just a big ol' mess overall.
This problem is at its worst in The Crimes of Grindelwald and The Secrets of Dumbledore, where it's clear that the Newt Scamander element and the Dumbledore/Grindelwald element just aren't gelling. With the franchise clearly more interested in exploring the conflict between those two great wizards, you can almost see these last two movies desperately trying to find ways to keep Newt, Queenie, Jacob, and the Fantastic Beasts gang relevant, when they simply aren't.
The Secrets of Dumbledore even had to pause the Dumbledore/Grindelwald story for 15 minutes to jaunt off on a completely pointless subplot about Newt breaking his brother out of prison, which felt completely removable. Hell, the title "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" is literally two different movies separated by a colon, and hilariously, the "Fantastic Beasts" part is barely visible in official logos for the film - which tells you all you need to know about what's actually important here.
This series should've done one or the other: a Fantastic Beasts story, or a Dumbledore/Grindelwald story. Mixing the two has failed, creating an unsatisfying jumble of characters and subplots that has collapsed under its own weight.
Again, the first Fantastic Beasts movie was received quite well, but it's telling that the first instalment has the least Newt/Dumbledore/Grindelwald crossover of the trilogy.