New research brought to light by wiki manager site, Fandom, has found that Harry Potter fans will still see Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, despite three big factors: negative reviews, domestic abuse allegations against Johnny Depp, and the controversy surrounding Claudia Kim's Nagini.
Fandom has reported an increased interest on their Potter-related wiki, which receives around 21 million page visitors per month. This spikes up by 27% with the release of each movie and their respective trailers. By the release of the last preview in September, page views had one-upped the first movie by 21%.
“What these fans are focused on is the deep, deep world of lore. Press and other external factors — good, bad, or indifferent — it doesn’t effect the world of the film for them,” said Angelina Fadool, Fandom’s director of content operations.
The embargo on critics' reviews lifted last week and critics seem to be split over the sequel. Some feel that the plot is just too convoluted and overstuffed, more interested in setting up the next sequel (of which there will be three) rather than telling a cogent story.
On the other hand, positive reviews have praised the added world building, new creatures, top shelf special effects, and noticeable momentum that was missing from the first film. All of the reviews have currently given the movie a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes.
The bit about Depp is considered to be more serious as it concerns allegations of domestic abuse made by his ex-wife Amber Heard (Mera in the upcoming Aquaman). The two actors officially split in 2017, but many felt that Depp should be dropped as Gellert Grindelwald (the evil dark wizard and main antagonist of the Fantastic Beasts series).
After all, the reasoning went, he only showed up for a few seconds at the end of the first one, so he would be easy to replace with a new actor. When news broke that Depp would be kept on, there was public outry, but both Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling (screenwriter on the two films) both stood by him and defended their decision. In October, Depp confirmed he'd be returning for the third installment
“Our audience tends to not be red carpet heavy or celebrity driven,” Fadool added. “They know that Newt Scamander is not Eddie Redmayne, and vice versa.”
Lastly, the casting of Claudia Kim as Nagini caused public outrage as well. The character is a Maledictus, who is cursed to permanently turn into the female snake that will one day serve as a companion to Lord Voldemort. When he loses his body, she nourishes him with venom and serves as a vessel for part of his soul.
Many felt it was disrespectful (some even called it racist) to turn one of the few people of color in the Potter franchise into the servant of another white man. Once again, Rowling was forced to defend the casting choice.
Nevertheless, Kim's casting caused a traffic increase of 16,000% to the wiki page on her character. Similarly, the page on Nagini's curse saw a spike of 33,000%. Per Fandom itself, drama is one of the best precursors to more traffic, whereas positive developments don't do much for page visitations.
Directed by Potter alum David Yates, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald hits theaters everywhere tomorrow. It's expected to make around $65 - $75 million domestically and $250 million internationally during its first weekend at the box office.