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Wands at the ready! Newt Scamander, our favorite magical zoologist (the only one we know, come to think of it) is getting ready to return to the big screen in Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore. The third entry in the latest Wizarding World film franchise currently lives up to its name with many plot elements still waiting to be revealed. We'll get plenty of answers when the film opens this weekend, but in the meantime, head below for everything you need to know about The Secrets of Dumbledore.
When is it out?
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore arrives in North American theaters everywhere on Friday, April 15 — more than three years after The Crimes of Grindelwald graced the big screen.
Originally slated to bow in November 2021, The Secrets of Dumbledore was one of the many, many Hollywood projects affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Production was all set to kick off in spring 2020 just as everything began to shut down. As a result, filming didn't begin until late 2020, forcing Warner Bros. to briefly delay the theatrical release to summer of 2022 before moving it up to the spring.
"It’s a whole new process. It’s a whole new normal. Testing frequently, masks," Eddie Redmayne (who plays the shy and kind-hearted Scamander) told CinemaBlend shortly after photography had begun. "And I wondered, actually, whether the masks would affect creativity, in some ways. Maybe that was a bit ignorant, but I just thought, as humans, do we need interaction to spark from each other. What is really reassuring is that it is a different process, but it still feels like it’s fizzing and that everyone is working at the top of their game."
Speaking with SYFY WIRE during the early days of the global health crisis that shut down live-action projects the world over, Redmayne's fellow cast member Dan Fogler (who plays the lovable No-Maj baker, Jacob Kowalski) said: "We’re just waiting," he said. "I guess when everybody else starts [back up], when the mechanism starts to move again and everybody starts to get back to work, that’s when we’ll get back to work. Hopefully, sooner than later."
The actor also gave us an exclusive tease of what to expect from the story: "I can say I read the script and the character development is really lovely and it’s very similar to the feel of the first movie, which I think is great. It’s leading toward this massive war with the backdrop of World War II, so you can just imagine epic battle scenes are coming."
How you can watch it
Unlike all the Warner Bros. films released in 2020, the project will only be available on the big screen. The hybrid strategy of releasing major movies into theaters and onto HBO Max was always a temporary model that expired at the end of 2021. The company's decision to adopt such an unprecedented model proved to be rather controversial in Hollywood, prompting backlash from respected filmmakers like Tenet's Christopher Nolan and Dune's Denis Villeneuve (both of whom have enjoyed lucrative partnerships with the studio).
Tickets for Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore are now on sale.
The recasting of Grindelwald
When the Fantastic Beasts universe does return, it'll do so without the involvement of Johnny Depp. The actor was removed from the role of dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (the main antagonist of the films) in November of 2020 following allegations and a highly-publicized legal battle with his ex-wife, actress Amber Heard.
"I wish to let you know that I have been asked to resign by Warner Bros. from my role as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts and I have respected and agreed to that request," Depp wrote in a message posted to Instagram. "Finally, I wish to say this. The surreal judgement of the court in the U.K. will not change my fight to tell the truth and I confirm that I plan to appeal. My resolve remains strong and I intend to prove that the allegations against me are false. My life and career will not be defined by this moment in time."
Several weeks later, Hannibal and Rogue One star Mads Mikkelsen was chosen to replace Depp, who had already filmed a number of scenes for the movie.
“Nobody’s interested in me going in there and trying to copy anything, that would be creative suicide immediately, especially when it’s been done before and masterfully," Mikkelsen told Collider. "So everybody’s expecting us to find a different path. Having said that, we need a bridge between what he did and what I’m gonna do, so those bridges you have to find together, whether it’s a certain look, whether it’s a certain attitude in certain situations, but you have to make it your own. Anything else would be plainly just creatively stupid.”
Decoding the title
Theoretically, the film's title could refer — at least partially — to the romantic relationship that Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) shared with Grindelwald when the two gifted wizards first met as young men in Godric's Hollow, following the sudden death of Albus' mother, Kendra.
The boys had such a close connection, that they made a special blood pact not to attack each other in combat. This becomes an issue years later when Grindelwald starts fomenting a war against the Muggles across Europe. At the end of the last movie, The Crimes of Grindelwald, Newt agreed to help Professor Dumbledore find a way to nullify the pact. They obviously succeed, because the latter is famous in the Harry Potter books for — among other things — his legendary duel with Grindelwald in 1945 that gained him ownership of the Elder Wand.
But what other dangerous secrets is the most powerful and charismatic wizard hiding behind his crooked nose, twinkling blue eyes, and warm smile? If Dumbledore's treatment of Harry over the course of seven books taught us anything, it's that his penchant for keeping crucial information to himself can oftentimes lead to catastrophe.
David Yates (director of four Potter films) is back to direct the third film in the series, working off a script co-written by J.K. Rowling (the Potter author, who wrote the first two Fantastic Beasts entries herself) and Steve Kloves (who penned almost all of the Potter adaptations for the big screen).
Returning cast members include: Katherine Waterston (Tina Goldstein, an American Auror), Alison Sudol (Queenie Goldstein, Tina's Legilimens sister and now a Grindelwald supporter), Ezra Miller (Credence Barebone, apparently a long lost member of the Dumbledore family), Callum Turner (Theseus Scamander, Newt's older brother), Victoria Yeates (Bunty, Newt's assistant), William Nadylam (Yusuf Kama, a wizard once driven by revenge who joins the fight against Grindelwald), and Poppy Corby-Tuech (Vinda Rosier, one of Grindelwald's most loyal supporters).
Jessica Williams gets an expanded role in The Secrets of Dumbledore as Eulalie "Lally" Hicks, a professor of Charms at Ilvermorny, the American equivalent of Hogwarts. Richard Coyle (Aberforth Dumbledore), Oliver Masucci (Anton Vogel), Maria Fernanda Cândido (Vicência Santos), Dave Wong (Liu Tao), and Aleksandr Kuznetsov (Helmut) round out the ensemble cast as franchise newcomers.
Five Fantastic Beasts movies are planned in all.
Be sure to check out SYFY's Wizarding World Week marathon (of all eight Potter films and the first two Fantastic Beasts installments), which runs through the end of the week.