Prequels are a tricky storytelling device to pull off. Ask both George Lucas and Peter Jackson, and they'll agree, going back in time and creating a story where the outcome is already predefined may sound like a good idea on paper. In practice, getting both the tone and the details right in a way the audience will like is easier said than done. J.K. Rowling is also learning this lesson publicly with her Wizarding World prequel series, which may have been dealt another setback, with word the Fantastic Beasts 3 premiere date has been bumped back for the release of Dune.
The Fantastic Beasts series was initially billed as a trilogy focusing on Newt Scamander, a Hufflepuff magizoologist, and his globetrotting adventures. The release dates for these three films were set as a biennial November event, starting with Nov. 18, 2016, then Nov. 16, 2018, and finally Nov. 20, 2020. When the first film arrived, revealing the Grindelwald/Dumbledore twist, this added two more films to the series, with presumed release dates to follow in November of 2022 and 2024.
But, like all good plans of mice and men, this one seems to have been upended. The first Fantastic Beasts opened to decent reviews, but Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald arrived last November to a near savaging. Among rumors of filming delays for retooling the third film's script, Warner Brothers announced last week Nov. 20, 2020, was now assigned to a new movie: Dune.
The announcement did not say anything about the Fantastic Beasts 3 release, but production companies do not put out two major big budget tent-pole films in the same genre on the same day. That would be self-defeating. If Dune is arriving on Nov. 20, this means Fantastic Beasts isn't. Moreover, with Robert Downey Jr.'s Sherlock Holmes 3 sitting in the Christmas release spot, chances are this is a sign Fantastic Beasts 3 won't be turning up until 2021 at the earliest.
In most cases, when a blockbuster gets bumped, it immediately gets assigned a new date. Take X-Men: Dark Phoenix, for example, it was removed from this month's lineup for Alita: Battle Angel. As part of the announcement, it immediately assigned a new June release date. Fantastic Beasts 3, on the other hand, is now floating in limbo, along with the planned fourth and fifth installments.
As for the film replacing it, Dune is a 1965 fantasy epic written by Frank Herbert. Much like Game of Thrones, it is as much a political thriller as it is a fantasy novel, spanning planets instead of continents. There's only been one attempt to make a movie, in the 1980s by auteur director David Lynch, and an all-star cast including Kyle McLaughlin, Patrick Stewart, and Sting. The film was a disaster — imagine if someone tried to make the whole of Game of Thrones into a two-hour movie with 1980s CGI.
It's unsurprising in this era Dune would get remade. So far the cast is wall to wall A-listers spanning the alphabet from Chamalet to Zendaya, drawing substantial interest.
Meanwhile, fans hope pulling Fantastic Beasts 3 until the script is ready will turn out to be just what the Wizarding World ordered. Hopefully, a new release date will be announced soon.