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Fantastic Beasts 3: release date, cast, plot, and more about the Harry Potter prequel

Fantastic Beasts 3
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

Fantastic Beasts 3 has undergone its fair share of changes, not least of which the introduction of a new Grindelwald actor. In case you hadn't heard, Mads Mikkelsen is stepping in to replace Johnny Depp as the main villain the Harry Potter spinoff series.

Alongside that, the release date has shifted, as has the filming schedule. But it's not all bad news. Things are getting rolling again and the untitled Fantastic Beasts threequel is aiming to hopefully recapture the magic of the original. 

Will it succeed? Time will tell. In the meantime, get a primer on all things Fantastic Beasts with our guide to the 2022 movie.

Fantastic Beasts 3 release date is July 15, 2022

Fantastic Beasts 3

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Fantastic Beasts 3 release date is set for July 15, 2022, so by the time the film hits cinemas, it’ll be over three years since the debut of The Crimes of Grindelwald. That’s rather longer than the two years that elapsed between the first two Fantastic Beasts movies, but it wasn’t all caused by COVID-19…

Instead, Warner Bros announced as far back as April 2019 (via Variety) that the Fantastic Beasts 3 release date would be in late 2021. Why? The company line is “artistry". “We are incredibly excited about and have confidence in the Fantastic Beasts series,” said Warner Bros Pictures Group chairman Toby Emmerich. “We all believe this release date will give the filmmakers time and space to allow their artistry to truly flourish and deliver the best possible film to our fans.”

That announcement came after Deadline had already reported that production had been delayed from its original July 2019 start date. Star Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski) also told HeyUGuys that: “The movie is going to be gigantic! The reason we were given [for the delay] is that the movie is bigger than the first two combined. They needed more time to prep and they didn’t want to rush anything so they pushed it back.” 

Come March 2020 and Fantastic Beasts 3 was filming and set for cinemas in November the following year. Then, COVID-19 struck. Filming was paused, but then the cameras started rolling again in September. 

“It’s interesting because we’ve started shooting now,” star Eddie Redmayne (Newt Scamander) told CinemaBlend. “We’re two weeks in and it’s a whole new process. It’s a whole new normal. Testing frequently, masks… What is really reassuring is that it is a different process but it still feels like it’s fizzing and that everyone is working on the top of their game.” 

“[It’s] not hugely different,” added Jude Law (Albus Dumbledore) in an interview with USA Today. “There are very specific guidelines, and there’s a lot of testing and mask-wearing, obviously. They’re creating bubbles within the crew, so certain departments don’t intermingle. It’s interesting. Film crews adapt and they’ve all taken to it swiftly and seriously. So it didn’t feel too unfamiliar.”

According to composer James Newton Howard, Fantastic Beasts 3 wrapped filming in February 2021. He told Deadline: "But I'll be just getting ready to start Fantastic Beasts 3, I hope, in March. I know that David Yates has finished shooting, and I'm chomping at the bit to get going, so I hope he'll give me some movie soon. But that's the next one I'll be doing, and that will take me through a good part of the year."

Warner Bros was seemingly pulling out all the stops to ensure that Fantastic Beasts 3 release date remained in 2021. But then, another blow to production: Johnny Depp was asked to leave the cast following a public court battle with a UK newspaper. The fallout left the studio moving the release date to July 2022 where it currently sits.

Fantastic Beasts 3 title – what’s the movie called?

As yet it’s unnamed, so at this point we can only guess about the Fantastic Beasts 3 title. You don’t need to be Hermione Granger, however, to work out it’ll probably look something like this: Fantastic Beasts: [insert magical subtitle here]. 

Jude Law says he knew the Fantastic Beasts 3 title before The Crimes of Grindelwald hit cinemas – but unfortunately he’s yet to let it slip in public. The Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald moniker was announced in November 2017, a year ahead of the film, so we’d expect to learn the Fantastic Beasts 3 title towards the summer of 2021.

Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer – when will we see a teaser?

Fantastic Beasts

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

COVID-19 delays mean production is still in its early stages, so it’s probably a little too soon to expect a full Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer. The first Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them teaser debuted in December 2015, 11 months ahead of the movie’s release, but we’re not expecting to see anything quite so soon. Instead, we think the first Fantastic Beasts 3 trailer will drop more in line with the first The Crimes of Grindelwald teaser, so we’re predicting something around September/August 2021.  

Fantastic Beasts 3 plot

Fantastic Beasts 3

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Following the comparative disappointment of The Crimes of Grindelwald, Warner Bros seemed to acknowledge they had some extra work to do on the Fantastic Beasts 3 plot. 

“The second film didn’t perform as well as the first, but I think we know what we need to do to get the third film hopefully even better than the first one,” Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara admitted to the Los Angeles Times in February 2019.  “And J.K. Rowling is really working hard now on that third script, and we’re going to get it right. She has an incredible vision of where she wants to go with this that is incredibly exciting.

“The hardest part of the franchise is you have such a big core fan base. That fan base really knows the lore and they want to go deep into these characters. But what you don’t want to do is intimidate people. You want to be able to create a standalone movie that’s enjoyable for someone who isn’t steeped in the lore.”

This time around, J.K. Rowling’s getting extra writing assistance from Steve Kloves, who scripted all but one of the Potter movies (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix is the exception). There’s also plenty of experience behind the camera, where David Yates helms his seventh wizarding adventure, after four Potters and the first two Fantastic Beasts.

Story specifics are currently scarce, but we do know that we’re not going to see Newt Scamander’s story resolved in the Fantastic Beasts 3 plot. This was always envisaged as a five-movie arc, set to conclude with an epic duel between Albus Dumbledore and his enemy/former lover Gellert Grindelwald at the end of World War 2. That means Fantastic Beasts 3 is just the middle of the story. 

We do know, however, that the film is off to explore new corners of the Wizarding World. With the first two movies having been based in New York and Paris, respectively, this time the destination is Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, as Rowling first hinted on Twitter back in November 2018.

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This was subsequently confirmed by Wizarding World, so there’s a good chance we’ll be enrolling at Castelobruxo, the magical Brazilian school that was mentioned in the Harry Potter novels.

We’ll be able to speculate more about the Fantastic Beasts 3 plot when we know exactly when it’s set. Both Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and The Crimes of Grindelwald took place in 1927 but – seeing as the next three movies have to span the subsequent 18 years to get us to 1945 – it’s reasonable to assume there’ll be a big time jump ahead of the third movie. 

So where will we find the characters when Fantastic Beasts 3 begins? Will Queenie still be on Team Grindelwald? How is Credence dealing with the knowledge that he’s actually Aurelius Dumbledore, Albus’s long-lost brother? Will Grindelwald (who has been recast) have trained him to take on Albus, knowing that a blood pact means he can’t take on the older Dumbledore himself? And will Newt, Tina, and Jacob have been able to rally forces to take on Grindelwald and his growing band of followers? 

After much of the first two movies’ runtimes were spent on world-building and putting narrative blocks in place, we’re hoping the Fantastic Beasts 3 plot will actually start moving things along, and working towards the prequel saga’s eventual conclusion. That would seem to be borne out by Dan Fogler’s admission that “massive war” is on the horizon.

“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,” he told CinemaBlend in March 2020. “It’s leading toward this massive war with the backdrop of World War 2, so you can just imagine epic battle scenes are coming.”

Fantastic Beasts 3 cast

Fantastic Beasts

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

There are a lot of familiar faces in the Fantastic Beasts 3 cast. Unsurprisingly, the movie’s central quartet are all back in action: Eddie Redmayne as magizoologist Newt Scamander, Katherine Waterston as Auror Tina Goldstein, Dan Fogler as Newt’s No-Maj BFF Jacob Kowalski, and Alison Sudol as Legilimens Queenie Goldstein. Callum Turner also confirmed to Yahoo! Movies that he’ll be back as Newt’s older Auror brother Theseus Scamander, while Jude Law is reprising his role as the younger incarnation of Wizarding World mainstay and Hogwarts professor Albus Dumbledore. 

The major casualty of The Crimes of Grindelwald was Leta Lestrange, who sacrificed herself to save Newt, Tina, Jacob, Theseus, and more – that means we’re only likely to see Zoë Kravitz in flashback or via magic (if at all).

There are also recognizable figures on the dark side of the Fantastic Beasts 3 cast, with Ezra Miller back as troubled Credence Barebone. We’d also be incredibly surprised if Claudia Kim doesn’t also come back as Nagini, the Maledictus fated to become Voldemort’s snake sidekick ahead of the Harry Potter era. 

The biggest change is Grindelwald. Johnny Depp has stepped down from the role following a court battle, and Mads Mikkelsen has been cast as his replacement, while Colin Farrell – who many hoped would return to the series – was not able to take on the part as he's committed to filming The Batman. The switch, though, is not something Mikkelsen has talked to Depp about, per The Sunday Times.

Mikkelsen said of the casting: "We're still working [the character] out. There has to be a bridge between what Johnny did and what I'm going to do. And at the same time, I also have to make it my own. But also we have to find a few links [to the previous version of the character] and some bridges so it doesn't completely detach from what he's already masterfully achieved."

Mikkelsen made similar comments to our sister publication Total Film: "This is obviously a more direct comparison because it’s the next film," he said, referring to his take on Hannibal Lecter following Anthony Hopkins'. "So we have done a few bridges that will allow us to recognize it, but we've also said we have to make it our own. I have been a fan of Johnny Depp since I saw him as a young man, and to try to bring his intensity and his way of doing it into my work is a no-go. I have to find my own, because his is unique, and I just have to let that be, and find a different path."

He also gave an update on the movie's progress: "We've wrapped it up," then added more generally of the film, "Obviously I have only been part of it for half the time that the rest of the gang has. It was a lovely experience. I think they had a really great script; a great, solid story. So if that is anything to measure on, I think the film will be... you know, as magical as it has to be, with all the wonderful creatures, but also quite beautiful. There are some really interesting, heartbreaking stories in there. And hopefully that will come across."

Other newcomers are currently thin on the ground, though Wizarding World reported back in November 2019 that Jessica Williams, who played Professor Eulalie ‘Lally’ Hicks in The Crimes of Grindelwald, will have a bigger role in Fantastic Beasts 3. Hicks is a teacher at the Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the US version of Hogwarts. 

But as the five-part series progresses and gets closer to its projected World War II finale, the chances of meeting younger versions of other Potter stalwarts increase. Future Hogwarts groundskeeper Rubeus Hagrid was a student at Hogwarts in the ’40s, while Professor McGonagall was already on the school’s staff. And then there’s the not-inconsequential matter of Hogwarts’ most infamous former pupil: Tom Riddle, the kid who’d later restyle himself as the must-not-be-named Lord Voldemort, was also at the school during the war years. Who’d bet against an early encounter with Gellert Grindelwald happening on-screen during the next three movies? Or even a first meeting with Nagini?

Fantastic Beasts 3 controversy

Fantastic Beasts

(Image credit: Warner Bros)

The Crimes of Grindelwald had the lowest box office in the history of the Wizarding World, and was arguably the least popular with cinema audiences. But the new movie has even bigger challenges to face if it’s going to be a success – there’s so much Fantastic Beasts 3 controversy out there right now that it could put an Avada Kedavra curse on the saga.

J.K. Rowling’s controversial (and much-publicized) Twitter posts and 3,800-word essay about the transgender community have attracted extensive backlash from Harry Potter fans, with Wizarding World stars including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Eddie Redmayne publicly distancing themselves from the authors’ views.  Johnny Depp was involved in a libel case that made lots of unsavory allegations about his private life and was later kicked from the movie.

Meanwhile, the casting of Korean actress Claudia Kim as Nagini considered by many to be racially insensitive (this is the Independent’s take on the issue), and many are upset that Dumbledore’s much-talked-about romantic relationship with Grindelwald has been (so far) invisible on-screen. The franchise has turned into something of a magnet for negative headlines.

So, if all the Fantastic Beasts 3 controversy stops the movie doing the business at the box office, this could be one five-movie franchise that stops at three… At least we'd have the Harry Potter TV show to look forward to. For more, check out our list of the best Netflix movies.