Fantastic Beasts on ‘pause’ as director says he was unaware JK Rowling planned five films

Fantastic Beasts Director David Yates says JK Rowling 'made up' five film claim. (Getty/Warner Bros)

Fantastic Beasts director David Yates has confirmed that the Harry Potter spin-off franchise is on “pause”, admitting that he was initially unaware that creator JK Rowling had plans for five films.

The Fantastic Beasts series – starring Eddie Redmayne, controversial non-binary actor Ezra Miller and disgraced star Johnny Depp – became a major box office flop after the third film, 2022’s Secrets of Dumbledore in 2022, found itself as the lowest-grossing Wizarding World film to be released by Warner Bros.

Co-written by Rowling (who has come under fierce criticism for her controversial comments on the trans community), the series was quietly shelved in November 2022 when industry bible Variety confirmed that no further films were in active development.

In an interview on the Inside Total Films podcast, director Yates has opened up about the decision to put a “pause” on the series, saying that Rowling’s five-film plan was not something he was aware of when he originally joined the project.

“The idea that there were going to be five films was a surprise to most of us,” Yates explained. “Jo just mentioned it spontaneously, at a press screening once. No one had told us there were going to be five, we’d committed to the first one.

JK Rowling at a red carpet event.
JK Rowling has been criticised for her views on trans people. (Getty)

“I’m sure at some point, we’ll be back. But yeah, I haven’t spoken to Jo, I haven’t spoken to [producer] David Heyman, I haven’t spoken to Warner Bros; we’re just taking a pause. It’s quite nice. It allows me to do stuff like this,” he added, referring to upcoming Netflix film Pain Hustlers.

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Yates adding that the production of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore had been marred by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“It’s all just parked,” he said. “We made those three movies, the last one through a pandemic, and it was enormous fun but it was tough. We were actually filming when there wasn’t a vaccine. Thankfully, no one got sick, but we did have the most detailed protocols in place.”

“We’re all so proud of [Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore] and when it went out into the world, we just needed to sort of stop and pause, and take it easy.”

Fantastic Beasts has had to navigate several controversies, from controversy over Rowling’s comments about trans people to Depp’s court appearances after domestic abuse allegations by his ex-partner Amber Heard.

Meanwhile, Ezra Miller rarely left headlines throughout 2022 after being the subject of a string of allegations including assault and burglary, grooming and harbouring a mother and her children.

The Flash star has since stepped back from the public spotlight to seek treatment for “complex mental health issues”.