More than two years after The Crimes of Grindelwald premiered, the third Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them film has yet to hit the big screen. But the behind-the-scenes drama circling the project tells a narrative of its own. Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts 3 is still scheduled for a 2022 release date, despite Johnny Depp's exit from the franchise, controversy surrounding author J.K. Rowling's involvement, and most recently, a COVID-19-related delay.
According to Deadline, a “team member” on the Fantastic Beasts 3 production has reportedly tested positive for coronavirus. The outlet could not confirm who the team member was, nor the timeline for when filming could resume. This latest development follows a long string of delays and drama to impact the trilogy-making third Fantastic Beasts installment. Here's everything we know about the upcoming film — starring Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander) and Jude Law (Albus Dumbledore) — including its new premiere.
When will Fantastic Beasts 3 be released?
The next installment in the supernatural franchise is still poised for release next year, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Fantastic Beasts 3 will hit theaters on Jul. 15, 2022, a delay from its original Nov. 2021 premiere. Filming was meant to begin in early 2020 but was pushed back to last fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team member's positive COVID-19 test will also likely impact London production of the untitled film.
Warner Bros released the following statement regarding the test to Deadline:
“A team member from Fantastic Beasts 3 has tested positive for COVID-19. The diagnosis was confirmed as a result of required and ongoing testing that all production employees receive, and the team member is currently in isolation. Out of an abundance of caution, Fantastic Beasts 3 paused production and will be back up in accordance with safety guidelines.”
What will the third movie be about?
There's no official synopsis for the third movie yet, but Fantastic Beasts 3 will center on characters created by Rowling and take place years before the events of Harry Potter. The film will be directed by David Yates, who directed the first two Fantastic Beasts movies and several of the Harry Potter films. Steve Kloves wrote seven of the eight OG Harry Potter movies and co-wrote the script with Rowling, who also worked on the first two films. Fantastic Beasts 3 will reportedly take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and include an expanded role for Professor Eulalie "Lally" Hicks, played by Jessica Williams, who last made an appearance in 2018's Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.
Will the original cast return?
As with Yates' return to the director's chair, most of the franchise's cast will return. Redmayne and Law will reprise their central roles in the prequel series as well as Williams, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, and Dan Fogler.
One notable absence from the cast list: Johnny Depp as Dark Wizard Gellert Grindelwald. The Oscar nominee left the franchise last November after losing a libel case with The Sun. According to Deadline, his appeal was denied when a judge ruled the outlet's "wife beater" descriptor of the actor was "substantially true." Mads Mikkelsen was recast in Depp's role that same month. (According to The Hollywood Reporter, Depp still received his full $16 million salary for Fantastic Beasts 3 after filming only one scene for the film.) "Job wise, it's obviously super interesting and nice," Mikkelsen told Entertainment Weekly in December 2020. "It's also a shocker that it came after what happened, which is just super sad. I wish both of them [Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard] the best. These are sad circumstances. I hope both of them will be back in the saddle again really soon."
Is this the final movie in the franchise?
It's unclear if the Fantastic Beasts franchise will live to see another day after the third movie. The second film made significantly less than the first, Variety reports. 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them brought in $814 million worldwide, while the sequel only grossed $655 million.
Additionally, if there are future films, Rowling may not be involved. Amid Fantastic Beasts 3's development, fans and critics accused the author of transphobia after she tweeted offensive remarks regarding the trans community. Rowling's comments received widespread criticism, including backlash from the original Harry Potter trio—Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. Apparently, the world of wizarding doesn't come without its wrinkles.