The introduction of 2016’s “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” marked a new era for Harry Potter fans. While this film returned audiences to a wizarding world different from the one The Boy Who Lived grew up in, characterized by an American setting and a new main character, it was largely a success. It did extraordinarily well at the box office, and with news of more films to come, things looked promising for this new spin-off series.
Then the second movie came along in 2018.
While it also did well at the box office, the film was tattered by reviews speaking of a clunky plot and an unclear focus. More than that, it was also criticized for casting Johnny Depp amid domestic violence allegations, fumbling around with the question of Dumbledore’s sexuality, and casting an East Asian woman in the role of a shape-shifting snake.
The second movie is typically not remembered fondly among people for these reasons, but no matter how much of a mess was made, there was still the looming notion that more sequels were coming.
Flash forward almost two years later, and the third film in the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” franchise was prepared to begin shooting right as COVID-19 shut down the film industry. Its cast and crew went home, likely turning to outlets others relied on during quarantine: reading books, baking bread, taking walks, watching shows, the usual.
The film’s writer and author of the “Harry Potter” books, JK Rowling, turned to Twitter.
There are online articles that lay out comprehensive timelines of all Rowling’s comments regarding the matter, but long story short, the author released a series of tweets during quarantine that revolved around the transgender community. These tweets caused immediate backlash as the author seemed to imply that transgender women were not “real” women and haven’t experienced the same hardships “real” women feel. The author has also pledged support for a woman who lost her job after making transphobic comments online. Rowling promoted a T-shirt made by a company who also advertises anti-transgender merchandise on their website. Finally, Rowling worked on a new book that seems to villainize the transgender community by having the plot revolve around a serial killer who also happens to be a cross-dresser.
Fans and celebrities were all quick to denounce Rowling’s actions, including many of the original “Harry Potter” cast members like Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint.
However, the damage has been done. And now that “Fantastic Beasts 3” has begun filming, it’s likely to feel the brunt of that damage when it hits theaters next year. The second film already disheartened the franchise, but after Rowling’s Twitter controversy, there may be no saving the third film in the eyes of the public.