Mads Mikkelsen In Talks To Join “Fantastic Beasts 3” As Grindelwald!

Like it or not, Johnny Depp has now been officially ruled a wife-beater by a British court, and there’s likely very little he can do at this point to prove otherwise. The ruling, which came about after a prolonged legal battle between Depp and his ex-wife Amber Heard (whom Depps claims physically and emotionally abused him, and who herself claims to be the victim of Depp’s own abusive tendencies), has already led to consequences for Depp, at least from a business perspective: it wasn’t long after the court case ended that Warner Brothers announced they had let him go from the Fantastic Beasts franchise. Depp was actually the first to break the news, in an Instagram post where he admitted that Warner Brothers had asked him to resign from the role of the dark wizard Grindelwald, a pivotal character in the franchise whom he has played since the Fantastic Beasts franchise’s start in 2016.

Fantastic Beasts
digitalspy.com

What both Depp and Warner Brothers neglected to mention at the time was that Depp, who had not yet filmed any scenes for the third film in the Fantastic Beasts series, would nonetheless be receiving his full 8-figure salary for his work. In light of that reveal, I think we can all agree that – no matter how you feel about Depp and the allegations against him – the actor has been left financially well-equipped by Warner Brothers to continue his fight in court (he hopes to challenge Heard again for libel, here in the United States), and probably find work elsewhere before long. In the meantime, filming is still underway for Fantastic Beasts 3, but the movie now needs a new Grindelwald fast – he’s not a side-character who can just be removed from the story. He’s the main antagonist of the series.

Luckily for the franchise and its small but admittedly devoted hardcore fandom, it seems that Fantastic Beasts director David Yates has long had a replacement in mind, and thus, after just a few days, Yates and Warner Brothers have expressed their intent to bring Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen into the Wizarding World. Mikkelsen, who is often cited as the actor most people wish had gotten the role in the first place, is already in early talks to join the series – a bold and potentially very risky move for the actor, who has up until now made mostly solid career choices: his most significant role to date being Hannibal in the popular TV series of the same name. He hasn’t had much luck when it comes to big film franchises, which may be part of the reason why he’s interested in taking the juicy role of Grindelwald – a charismatic fascist dictator whom we last saw mustering armies of dark wizards to conquer the world and enslave the non-magical population, and who cunningly manipulates the emotions of his nemesis and former lover, Albus Dumbledore. A few years ago I think all this would have been quite enough to convince Mikkelsen (or anyone, really) to take the role. But nowadays, I would personally be hesitant to attach Mikkelsen to the Fantastic Beasts franchise and its swiftly growing hurricane of controversy – for Mikkelsen’s sake.

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Grindelwald | cnbc.com

It’s not just because Mikkelsen will receive a barrage of unwarranted abuse from Johnny Depp’s most ardent supporters, who will cry foul and continue to defend Depp’s right to return to the role; it’s not just that Mikkelsen will have to work around and hopefully overcome valid criticisms that the characters of Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore are written intentionally vaguely so as to queerbait audiences; it’s not even just that J.K. Rowling, the series’ creator and lead writer, is a ticking time bomb who has done her level best to destroy her own reputation and the reputations of those who associate with her by constantly waging war on the trans community in a series of attacks that ranged from depicting transwomen in her adult crime novels as serial killers by nature, to writing up entire essays about how she thinks transwomen are infiltrating spaces reserved for cisgender women or being forced to transition by nefarious forces, to unfollowing fellow author Stephen King on Twitter after he simply proclaimed that transwomen are women. It’s also that Fantastic Beasts is a struggling franchise overall, one which any bystander can see is probably on a collision course with disaster. While the first film was fairly decent and made a good profit, the sequel derailed the story entirely – and unsurprisingly, it drew in overwhelmingly negative reviews before dying a long, slow, death at the box office. Fantastic Beasts 3 is now being moved from the franchise’s consistent, safe, November release date to an alarming spot in mid-July, where it will open just a week after Captain Marvel 2, the sequel to last year’s female-led, billion-dollar-club entry. At one point, this series was supposed to be a five-film epic: now, with everything up in the air, it’s going to be extraordinarily difficult to make a fourth or fifth film happen, and J.K. Rowling would be wise to at least try and wrap up the entire series in this third movie – the only one she’s assured to get. But with the way she’s been acting recently, I’m not holding my breath. What seems more likely is that she’ll end Fantastic Beasts 3 on yet another bizarre cliffhanger just before the entire franchise gets gently terminated, leaving us all unsatisfied, frustrated, and exhausted. Either that or Warner Brothers sticks with J.K. Rowling’s vision and continues to suffer the consequences.

And as for Mads Mikkelsen personally, well, he’ll get a big paycheck for sure, but the laundry list of possible consequences for him for taking this role goes on. Right upfront, he’ll be expected to come up with an excuse for how he can be comfortable working under J.K. Rowling – and, in fact, all the Fantastic Beasts stars will need to do so before long. So far, the series’ lead Eddie Redmayne has wavered between vocally condemning Rowling’s harsh rhetoric and writing supportive letters to her. Mikkelsen should be ready with a statement of his own: if he signs on, he will become the first major actor to join the franchise after Rowling’s transphobic views became widely-known, putting him in an unenviable position. For the moment, he’ll also carry the massive burden of trying to rescue the franchise (assuming that’s even a concern of Warner Brothers’ at this point): he’s the only new name thus far attached to the cast, and none of his costars, not even Jude Law, did much to draw audiences to theaters when the last film came out in 2018. Depp’s parting and Rowling’s statements make it inevitable that we’ll also see calls to boycott in the months and weeks leading up to the film’s release: there’s a widespread feeling among the fandom that supporting Fantastic Beasts financially equals supporting transphobia.

Fantastic Beasts
Mads Mikkelsen | independent.co.uk

With that being said, Mikkelsen is popular enough that he might actually be able to rescue the franchise, though he’ll never be able to repair all the damage that’s been done. Since the news of his involvement broke last night, I’ve been surprised to see a surge of people expressing renewed interest in the upcoming third film, saying that they’ll watch it just for Mikkelsen, or at least catch it on HBO Max. Granted, this moment of hype could die out by the time the film actually opens, and we’ll have to see how Mikkelsen looks and acts in the Grindelwald costume (or if he gets embroiled in any controversy of his own, something I truly hope doesn’t happen), but he’s almost certain to turn in a great performance: the kind of performance that could even get Fantastic Beasts some good reviews. If Warner Brothers is trying to get this franchise off their hands, they might have chosen too good an actor to make that possible just yet.

So what do you think? Is Mikkelsen a much-needed win for a franchise getting back on its feet after failure, or is this a disastrous career choice the actor will regret for a long time? Share your own thoughts, theories, and opinions, in the comments below!

“Fantastic Beasts 3” Has Been Greenlit!

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes Of Grindelwald was not a good movie. In fact, it can be argued that it was a downright bad one – certainly critics and audiences were almost unanimous in their condemnation of the film’s many convoluted subplots, crowded cast of characters, and disrespect toward Wizarding World canon. Nonetheless, many of us hoped and prayed that, despite fan backlash, despite that ugly Rotten score, despite (worst of all) the lower box-office returns, the franchise could reach its full potential in a third installment, a third film that could right Grindelwald‘s wrongs and put the series back on track. We, the faithful few, suffered devastating setback after devastating setback: the film was pushed back to a 2021 release date; star Ezra Miller’s busy schedule seemed to indicate that he might be leaving the Beasts franchise, or worse, that it might be canceled – these were the concerns that kept us awake at night. We heard rumors that Johnny Depp was out as Grindelwald; that Warner Brothers had lost faith in writer J.K. Rowling’s ability to turn out a good film; that nothing was certain.

Today, one year after Crimes Of Grindelwald put the franchise’s future into question – a third film has been confirmed.

"Fantastic Beasts 3" Has Been Greenlit! 1
cinemablend.com

Beasts is not dead, despite how long it took to get the series off of life-support. In Fantastic Beasts 3, the franchise will need to work harder than ever before to convince fans to stick around – but Rowling can’t rely on the same tactics she thought would make Grindelwald an instant hit: her literary style, the complexity of her stories, her excessive callbacks to Harry Potter – that all needs to stop now, for the third film to work. No more subplots within subplots within subplots, all stuffed into one gigantic red-herring; no more half-baked characters tossed into the story to fill up space and time; no more queer-baiting Grindelwald and Dumbledore’s LGBTQ relationship. It’s time to put the focus back where it belongs, on the core narrative of our four heroes (Newt Scamander, Jacob Kowalski, Tina and Queenie Goldstein), and strip away the layers upon layers of underdeveloped plot that turned Grindelwald into the tangled mess that it was. Bring us back to basics, Jo, and give us a good, stand-alone story that is comprehensible, accessible, and enjoyable.

Thankfully, she’s not alone. As many of us suspected and hoped would be the case, a real screenwriter has been brought onboard to assist Rowling in translating her impressive vision to the big screen: Steve Kloves, the writer for all of the Harry Potter films (except Order Of The Phoenix). Rowling was originally set the write the third film on her own, but reason has prevailed.

I’m not saying that Rowling is not a good writer – on the contrary, I believe she is quite an excellent one: she has an eye for detail, she weaves clues and hints into her writing in an intriguing way that allows fans to play along, and she has a knack for compelling mystery (so much so that, when not writing wizard books/movies, she writes mystery novels under a pseudonym). But her style is best suited to the literary format, where she has all the time she needs to write those mysteries and weave those intricate stories. In a two-hour film, her plot is virtually bursting at the seams, demanding to be given space to breathe, pleading with the viewer for more time – time that Rowling simply doesn’t have. With a professional screenwriter at her side, she will hopefully be able to edit her story down to a decent size, give it a clear focus, and make it just a bit more cinematic: certainly there’s enough in the third film to make a good movie, it just needs a good script.

Fantastic Beasts 3 is confirmed to be another world-hopping adventure like the first two films, with Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, set as one of the main locations – though the Deadline article in which the news broke does make it seem like the story will span several continents: which would fit in with what star Dan Fogler suggested earlier this year, that the third film would be bigger in scale than the first two combined. Oh please, Jo, don’t mess this up. This could be your last chance – don’t mess this up!

The regular cast, including Johnny Depp as Grindelwald and Jude Law as young Albus Dumbledore, are confirmed to be returning for the third film. Jessica Williams, who had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in Grindelwald as Professor Eulalie “Lally” Hicks, will also have a pivotal role, though no further details have been revealed about her character. Production will begin in Spring of 2020.

What do you think of the news? Are you relieved, or disappointed that the franchise is continuing? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

“The Flash” Has New Directors (Surprise, Surprise)…

Not long ago, I reported that Ezra Miller, star of Justice League and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, was still set to play the speedy superhero, The Flash, in an upcoming Flash solo movie. Months ago, Miller’s future in the franchise had been put in jeopardy when he broke ranks with his directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, in order to write a new, edgier script for the movie, which he thought was too light-hearted.

Now, Warner Brothers have decided to place their bets on Miller, kicking Daley and Goldstein unceremoniously off the project. On the other hand, they’ve already decided not to move forward with Miller’s script either, but have instead chosen to start over from scratch (again), enlisting Christina Hodson, writer of Bumblebee and Birds of Prey, to redo the movie. Miller will still play the Flash, but he’s not calling the shots anymore. This whole situation is so confusing.

It gets weirder when we consider that Warner Brothers is (maybe?) still going for a darker take on the story, such as Miller was advocating, since they’ve hired horror directors Andy and Barbara Muschietti to take the reins from Daley and Goldstein. Then again, maybe not, since James Wan also came from the horror genre, but made Aquaman into one hilarious, family-friendly comedy, and the same occurred with David Sandberg, who switched gears from horror to humor, directing the DC’s most recent film, Shazam: and then we’ve got Jaume Collet-Serra, another horror director, coming over to the DC to direct Black Adam. It’s almost like the DCEU, or more specifically, DC president Walter Hamada, producer of multiple horror films, has a bias. At this point, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins has to score a big hit with her upcoming sequel to the 2017 hit, or she’s going to be replaced by another of Hamada’s own friends.

Anyway, I’m not trying to be a downer or anything…but, seriously, how many directors is this movie going to go through before it gets to be too much? How many scripts are going to be written? How does Ezra Miller somehow escape each of these purges by the skin of his teeth? What is going on behind the scenes? Filming dates have also changed, with cameras expected to start rolling on The Flash in January of next year…which, um, is going to conflict with Miller’s filming for Fantastic Beasts 3, if I’m not mistaken? Or does this mean Fantastic Beasts 3 is getting pushed back again?

If only I knew.

“The Flash” Is Still Happening!

Ezra Miller’s promising career has kind of run up against a brick wall this year – his two biggest upcoming projects, in J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World and the DC Extended Universe, have both been stuck in some sort of…well, we can’t even call it “development hell” because neither has even made it into development yet! The Fantastic Beasts franchise is busy sending out S.O.S signals and frantically rearranging its schedule, with the release date for the series’ third entry having been pushed back to November of 2021. Miller’s DC solo movie, Flashpoint (or just The Flash, it doesn’t technically have a title yet) has been slowly drifting off into hazy forgetfulness for years, with random outbursts of news popping up every now and again to remind us that, maybe, someday, this movie might have a slim chance of possibly happening.

Earlier this year, there was huge breaking news that Ezra Miller was not only still making that movie, but had taken it upon himself to rewrite the entire script with the help of comic-book author Grant Morrison. The rumor, which began circulating on March 15th, suggested that Miller’s new script could be submitted to Warner Brothers Studios, and I quote, “as early as next week”.

And, uh, yeah…that apparently never happened.

What makes it even weirder is that, after the deafening silence from Miller, DC, and Warner Brothers the week after that report surfaced, there continued to be precisely no news about the film in the months since. Miller’s contract with DC was said to expire in May, at which point the actor would either have to renegotiate his deal or part ways with the role of the Flash – not something that seemed likely, considering that Miller claimed to be deeply committed to making sure the movie happened. Well, May came and went, and there was still no word about what Miller was up to: had he submitted his script, against the wishes of his own directors, John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein? Had they persuaded him to abandon his idea and end his partnership with Morrison? Did Miller’s expire? Is he still playing the Flash? Is the Flash even still happening?

The story is still very patchy and incomplete, and there’s obviously a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes: because now, according to one vague sentence in a brief piece on Miller’s gender-fluidity by Variety, Miller “will get his DC Universe stand alone film as soon as he wraps up his work on the “Harry Potter” spinoff series “Fantastic Beasts”.

So…um, I guess he’s still onboard?

What’s not clear is whether Miller’s script – a darker take on the source material than that being used by his directors – has been adopted for the film, or whether the actor has been forced back in line. It would seem that he’s renegotiated his deal, at the very least. And it looks like The Flash is still happening? Unfortunately, it’s clearly not happening anytime soon: Miller’s responsibility to the Fantastic Beasts franchise will probably keep him occupied through most of early 2020, as he shoots Fantastic Beasts 3.

The article, though, doesn’t say Fantastic Beasts 3 – it refers to the entire Fantastic Beasts franchise, which gives me some reason to worry. Now, it could mean one of three things: (a) the article is simply worded oddly: Variety is usually reliable, but they did also reference an upcoming Justice League sequel in an article not too long ago about Ben Affleck – needless to say, there is no upcoming Justice League sequel and never has been. (b) the article is being literal, and implies that Miller will have to finish filming the last three Fantastic Beasts movies before he can move on to playing the Flash, in which case we’re going to have to wait a very long time for that movie, or (c), the most dreadful possibility, the article is being literal, and Fantastic Beasts 3 is indeed the end of the franchise: unfortunately, it’s not out of the realm of possibility, with the way that the second film in the series, The Crimes of Grindelwald, drastically underperformed at the box-office, and failed to resonate with critics or audiences.

I’m really hoping that it means nothing, and just boils down to a faulty editor or a careless writer.

But whatever it means for the Wizarding World, it looks like Miller’s future with the DCEU is…safe, I guess? He hasn’t been publicly let go, at least. Whatever is going on with the script behind the scenes, it looks like the Flash is still making his way…slowly…to the big screen.

“Fantastic Beasts 3” Release Date Announced!

"Fantastic Beasts 3" Release Date Announced! 2
theverge.com

It’s long been suspected that the next installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise wouldn’t be coming to the big screen for quite some time: not only was the previous Beasts film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, ravaged by critics and met with only a middling reaction at the box-office, but there was also debate about whether or not the franchise’ star Johnny Depp was fit to remain in his role as the Wizarding World’s greatest villain after his domestic abuse scandal began to heat up again. Ezra Miller had some scheduling troubles with his upcoming Flash movie. Meanwhile, the sci-fi epic Dune nabbed the November 2020 release date that had previously been rumored to belong to Fantastic Beasts 3, leading some to believe we would see the third film in early 2021.

Alas, it is not to be. Today, Warner Brothers released a statement confirming that, while they are “proud to be the cinematic home of the Wizarding World”, they’ve made the decision to push back the third film’s release date to November 12, 2021. Considering the epic cliffhanger that the previous film left off with, this is a hard blow to those of us who actually enjoyed Crimes of Grindelwald and are excited to see where this franchise could go. Author J.K Rowling has the script apparently ready to go, and filming will begin in the spring of 2020. Previously, actor Dan Fogler had reported that the third film would be bigger than the first two Beasts movies combined – probably an overstatement, but perhaps not impossible at this point: the official reason given for delaying Fantastic Beasts 3 is that it will “give the filmmakers time and space to allow their artistry to truly flourish”, which sounds pretty good, all things considered. Crimes of Grindelwald was rushed through its production and, as much as I loved the film, it certainly had major flaws: the characters felt only half-baked compared to how vibrant and unique they were in Fantastic Beasts & Where To Find Them; multiple plots and subplots branched out without solid resolutions; and, worst of all for Wizarding World fans, there were a number of peculiar and nagging retcons or continuity errors, none more infamous (or notorious) than the appearance of Professor Minerva McGonagall years before her established birthdate in the Harry Potter canon. More time to work on the film could have made it a worthier sequel to the first Fantastic Beasts installment, and might have made it more of a critical darling – or a box-office hit. As it was neither, it’s no surprise that the studio is taking steps to insure the franchise gets back on a smoother track: according to Rowling, there will be five films when all is said and done. If Fantastic Beasts 3 winds up in the same unfavorable position as its predecessor, we might never see 4 and 5.

Hopefully, having more time to perfect the script and edit out unnecessary filler material (did we really need to see Yusuf Kama’s eye-surgery, or Newt Scamander’s escapade with a Kelpie in Crimes of Grindelwald?), or unnecessary fan-services (looking at you, McGonagall, and you, Nicolas Flamel), will only benefit the final film. Even though we now have a much longer wait ahead of us, we can rest assured that what we get in the end could be that much better.

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Spoilers for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, ahead!

 

Following Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, viewers were left with a myriad of unanswered questions. However, most of us took assurance in the fact that we would only have to wait two years for the next installment to figure out things like: how is Credence a Dumbledore? How is Minerva McGonagall alive years before her birth? How is it even humanly possible that Eddie Redmayne continues to get more and more adorable in the role of Newt Scamander?

However, our hopes were rudely shattered by the news, which broke in January, that production of Fantastic Beasts 3 had been pushed back to the fall of this year – it had been expected to start production in the summer. This was followed by the revelation that the release date rumored to be reserved for Fantastic Beasts 3, November 20th, 2020, had been given to the sci-fi epic Dune. Now we’ve been able to glean a few more details about why the production was delayed. In an interview with the LA Times, Warner Brothers chief executive Kevin Tsujihara revealed that he is aware that Crimes of Grindelwald was no critical darling, and that its box-office gross was not what he had hoped for: he suggested that this is being taken into consideration now, and that J.K Rowling is “working hard” on the script for Fantastic Beasts 3, which is interesting, since she finished writing it all the way back in December. Tsujihara also said that the third film will be better even than the first Fantastic Beasts movie, and that Rowling has “an incredible vision” of what the future installments in the series will be like. This is all very promising, especially when combined with Fantastic Beasts actor Dan Fogler’s statement that Fantastic Beasts 3 will be bigger than the first two movie combined. We can only hope that more news is on its way, and that we can get answers to our questions soon. But at the moment, it seems most likely that Fantastic Beasts 3 will be Apparating into theaters in 2021. That, of course, is small comfort for all of us fans who are dying to see what happens next to Newt & Co., but in my opinion the delay will actually be helpful: Crimes of Grindelwald, of course, was torn apart by critics and had only a moderate success at the box-office, so giving the production team more time to craft an excellent movie is not a bad idea, by any means. Continue reading “Fantastic Beasts 3”