Warner Brothers deserves kudos for achieving the impossible. Despite having torn torn through the Harry Potter novels multiple times, and pulled all nighters to get through The Half Blood Prince and The Deathly Hallows in one sitting (even going so far as to ignore my in-laws for a whole day while vacationing in Cornwall for the latter), and has sat through every installment of the films with friend and family in tow, I can put my interest at the upcoming Fantastic Beasts franchise at the same level as the likelihood I’d ever vote for Donal Trump. That number sits at a resounding zero percent. While I’m sure I’ll have to sit through at least one or two of these movies due to my daughter or wife dragging me to the theaters, I’m not going to like it.
Today’s nail in that coffin comes with the studio announcement that Johnny Depp has been tapped to play the dark wizard Grindelwald beginning with the second movie. Outside of Black Mass, it’s been years since Depp has put on a compelling performance. Professionally, the last decade of his screen roles can be summed up with Depp wearing funny hats and face paint and doing his best Bozo the Clown impression on screen. Combined with the revelations that he physically and emotionally abused his now ex-wife Amber Heard, Depp should be as clear a box office poison as there can be right now, yet he’s going to be one of the linchpins of what Warner Brothers hopes to be the lucrative continuation of the multi-billion dollar cash cow that is the Harry Potter franchise.
I admit I have been sour on the idea of the Fantastic Beasts film(s) from the outset. What was a nice diversion or easter egg in the Potterverse is being stretched into five feature length movies, and now being spun into a prequel series for no other reason than “making bucket loads of cash is a good, good, good thing.” It stinks of desperation as Warner Brothers hasn’t been able to spin their can’t-miss superhero films into the profit factories that mirror Marvel’s cinematic universe.