That's the word from Deadline. Why is Fantastic Beasts 3 being delayed? Apparently it's about giving the third film more prep time. To start filming this summer, a gigantic world-building production like Fantastic Beasts 3 would actually have to be in early prep right now. So the stars are being told about the production change so they can adjust their own schedules. (We can get into what this means for Ezra Miller's The Flash movie in a separate talk.)
Does this mean Fantastic Beasts 3 won't release in 2020? The first two films released in November, and it was expected that #3 would open in November 2020, with the final two films following in 2020 and 2024. But now that plan may have changed, or maybe it will change depending on how production and post-production go from here. Don't be shocked if we hear about Fantastic Beasts 3 moving to 2021.
A delay isn't often seen as hopeful, but to me this is exactly the right move. It shows that Warner Bros. is learning from what has worked and what could improve.
As Deadline noted, Warner Bros. had a habit of rushing major films to make them stick to their scheduled release dates, even if that rush produced [Justice League] less-than-stellar results. The success of Aquaman shows what can happen if they loosen the reins, so to speak, and don't try to force things.
Warner Bros. is actually coming off its best year at the box office ever in 2018, thanks mostly to #1 billion dollar baby Aquaman, but also to its #2 film, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. But they have to know that, even with $648,820,988 worldwide, Grindelwald could and should have done better at the box office and with fan/critic responses.
Overall, Grindelwald was seen as a step down from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Fantastic Beasts 2 made significantly less money than the $814,037,575 of the first movie, and was given lower scores and reviews. A few fans did say they liked Grindelwald more than the first movie, but most of the responses -- even the positive ones -- were less enthusiastic than for Newt Scamander's initial journey.
That's not exactly the trend you want to see when you are making what's planned to be a five-film franchise. As far as we know, that's still the plan. But it's smart to take extra time in pre-production to get the ducks aligned instead of rushing into a massive potential blockbuster.
Also, possibly -- hopefully? -- they can use this time to take another hard look at the script. Harry Potter maestro J.K. Rowling is the screenwriter for all of these films but she could use backup from someone willing to take a tough line. This is why I was hoping they'd get Alfonso Cuaron to step back into the Potter ring for one of the later Fantastic Beasts movies. He brought a fresh eye to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and that kind of storytelling vision could really come in handy.
In the meantime, Warner Bros. recently announced Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald will be coming to Digital HD on February 15, and then 4K UHD Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD Special Edition on March 12. Heads up, the release comes with a special extended cut, in case you wanted even more.