The Harry Potter formula is clearly still working for Warner Bros. The studio announced today that they plan to release the next film in the Potter franchise on November 16, 2018. That’s almost precisely two years after the release date for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which you can see on November 18 later this year.
Director David Yates, a veteran of the Potter series since the fifth film, will return to direct the next Fantastic Beasts. Series author J.K. Rowling will also return to write the screenplay, as she did for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
The Hollywood Reporter says the sequel will “move deeper into an increasingly dark time,” which is what sequels do. I’ve said this before about news from the Wizarding World, but none of this is surprising. That’s not necessarily a problem — the series has unquestionably found its groove. It’s still finding ways to feel fresh after eight novels, nine movies, and a hit stage play.
Yates is a good director, an artist whose style fit the established aesthetic of the films very well. But I think a shot of directorial change could be a good thing for the franchise. Fans and critics alike feel that the films peaked with 2004’s Prisoner of Azkaban. Gravity director Alfonso Cuarón played more loosely with the series’ tone and canon. He also added visual flourishes that made the film pop like none of the others ever did. Those differences make it feel somewhat unconnected to the rest of the films, but not in a bad way.
But the fact the Warner Bros. is moving forward with the same creative team and a familiar release date for Fantastic Beasts 2 is a good sign. It indicates a lot of confidence in the reinvigorated Harry Potter franchise, which fans are eager to see in theaters again (and again).