Will you be seeing the latest Harry Potter world movie, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when it hits theaters next week? The story follow Newt Scamander, a wizard with a luggage full of magical beasties, in 1920’s New York City. It is also the first in an expected five-movie series.
As far as I can tell, if that’s true, this will be the first non-adaptation movie that’s been announced to be developed as a series before it premieres and proves itself. It represents yet another shift in how studios and movie-goers see and experience movie sequels.
It’s as if tomorrow, Marvel were to announce that it was going to introduce a brand new superhero, never before seen in comics, for a five-movie series. Or if David Cameroon pronounced Avatar as the launching point of a four movie visual extravaganza before its first ticket sale.
Remember how, before Marvel’s interlocking superhero narratives, sequels (and prequels) weren’t things to watch for. They were things to watch out for. Especially if they got up in the high numbers.
Sequels tended to happened in one of two ways:
- Movie series are based on popular series, be they books or comics. Movie #1 comes out with the hopeful expectation of more, and if it does okay, its sequels are green-lighted. If it bombs, movie #2 is taken off the docket (example: Golden Compass, sigh).
- Movie series happen when a standalone movie does really well. Movie #1 comes out and it’s a hit. Before you know it, there’s Lion King 2 and Lion King 1 and a half, and whatever that Frozen sequel was, and Transporter 4, and the latest Mission Impossible.
After Toy Story 2 broke the sequel glass ceiling, after Fast and Furious (and its many cousins) hit its upteenth movie, after Lord of the Rings demonstrated that you can split a single story into multiple movies (twice) and people will still go see it, and after Marvel showed how you could create fun, easily consumable movies within the same universe, sequels are the in thing.
Yet even amid these recent sequel bonanzas, I can’t think of a single example of a movie not based on written material being talked about as a series even before the first movie hits theaters (with the possible exception of Kill Bill). And now there is chatter about a movie going all the way to five installments.
If Fantastic Beasts manages to pull it off, it may mark the next step in the evolution of how movie franchises are developed and leveraged.
Canaries, what do you think?
Great post. It isn’t very often that a movie is planned for sequels even before its release, as you accurately pointed out.
Being a huge HP fan, I’m eagerly looking forward to this film series. Thanks for sharing!
On one hand everything you say is true but I really just think that the studio is banking on JK Rowling’s big name and following to sell the movies. Since there was a lot of talk about it online and interest in seeing it they can safely announce sequels and know they will do relatively well. I didn’t expect a 5 movie announcement, rather one for now with the possibility in the future. However throwing money at Rowling is a safe bet because of how well HP did in books and movies and then the recent play and all the Pottermore stuff… and since the new stuff willl take place in New York that opens up the market a lot (even though they are a big marrket already but like recognition factor and nationality and all that plus movie goers around the world are super used to US locations in movies). Finally there is a little bit of background in Newt from HP and the Fantastic beasts book, so it’s not exactly like you Marvel analogy.
So while this is a breakthrough for movies, I doubt it’ll become too much of a common thing. It is neat though that they would take a risk like that as it is still a risk since the first movie could flop in reviews like how the 3rd divergent movie flopped so much the 4th on is being made as a straight to DVD movie.
I’ll absolutely be seeing it! I cried a little bit when I first learned about it, simply because of the chance it offered to revisit one of the best parts of my childhood. 😀
I do admit I found the five-movie plan to be rather astonishing, even in today’s movie climate of sequels galore, but I agree with @NeverSeenANEvergreen that this decision was likely made due to the solidity of Rowling’s name. I mean, if the Transformers movies can still be blockbusters despite being notoriously bad, then anything associated with J.K. Rowling’s name should have no problem being a success. It’ll probably make back its budget in the first week on curiosity and nostalgia watchers alone.
I’m definitely enjoying this era of good sequels, too. As much as I prefer watching original stories on the screen, many characters and stories are interesting enough to merit being revisited, and I’m glad that most of the recent movies have been doing them justice, rather than making an obvious money grab.
Did you end up seeing it and if so, what did you think? (!!)
My overall thoughts are super mixed. Much darker elements than I expected (not a bad thing). I wasn’t completely on board with the romantic connection between Newt and Tina. Really great special effects.
I did see it! My feelings were mixed, too. While I did generally like it, I thought some of the plot elements and characters were weak; the antagonistic characters, especially, were far too exaggerated (Like, “It’s not enough that the anti-wizard lady is anti-wizard. Let’s make her collect children solely to abuse them, too. Just to avoid any confusion.”) And though he was endearing, Newt himself was kind of dumb, at least concerning everything that wasn’t a fantastic beast. As far as romance goes, I didn’t even detect one between Newt and Tina until the final scene, so to me it played more like a crush/potential romance (which could be cute. Though, if it happens, Tina’s going to spend a lot of her time exasperated). Jacob Kowalski was hands-down my favorite part of the movie; I really enjoyed that the storyline gave a muggle a main role because that perspective alone gives Fantastic Beasts a way to set itself apart from Harry Potter. Plus he was such a great character on his own. I hope to see more of him in future movies, but the way the franchise is being set up, I don’t know if that will happen. Fingers crossed!