Harry Potter’s Wizarding World has been enchanting audiences for decades, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Author J.K. Rowling has been expanding the universe through the website Pottermore, The Cursed Child plays, as well as the Fantastic Beasts franchise. The first sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald, arrived in theaters last week– but its not faring quite as well as its predecessor.
This juxtaposition can certainly be seen in the movie’s box office performances, with The Crimes of Grindelwald taking less in its opening weekend than the first movie. But audiences seem to be less enthralled with the new installment, which can be seen with its current CinemaScore. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has a respectable B+, but that’s down from the A score Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them landed with audiences back in 2016.
The Crimes of Grindelwald‘s decline on CinemaScore might be for a few reasons, one of which being that the first Fantastic Beasts movie was the first of its kind, and therefore extra exciting. The same trend can be seen with Star Wars’ Last Jedi compared to The Force Awakens. Still, the lower score is just the latest way the new sequel has seemingly failed to keep up with the first Fantastic Beasts.
As previously mentioned, The Crimes of Grindelwald is making less money at the box office than the original. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them took home $74.4 million two years ago during its opening weekend, where David Yates’ sequel brought in $62.25 million domestically. While still a strong performance, the dip in millions is certainly noticeable.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald also performed less well critically, received mixed reviews and currently holding 40% on Rotten Tomatoes at the point of writing this story. Word of mouth via social media has proven a big part of the release process, so it’s possible that the reviews and social media reaction dissuaded moviegoers from shelling out money last weekend.
J.K. Rowling and David Yates certainly seem to be taking tons of risks with The Crimes of Grindelwald, crafting a story that is decidedly more adult and dark than Harry Potter’s first few years at Hogwarts. The prequel continued not long after the first film’s events, and helped bridge the connection between the Fantastic Beasts movies and the Harry Potter series.
It may be this new tone and the subject matter that affected the sequel’s audience reaction and box office performance. There were little to no moments of levity, and Grindelwald and his followers murdered a ton of people throughout the course of the movie. Add in the death of an infant and the mind-blowing twist ending, and The Crimes of Grindelwald didn’t sit right with everyone.
You can judge for yourself now, as Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is currently in theaters. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.