Back in 2016, just before Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was first released we learned that the plan was for the first film to launch a five movie franchise. Based on that schedule, Fantastic Beasts 3 was supposed to release on November 20, 2020. Obviously, that didn't happen. The film's first delays pre-dated the global pandemic, but since then it seems that Fantastic Beasts 3 has just seen one delay after another, and now the movie has had to pause production for a second time after somebody on the set tested positive for COVID-19.
Warner Bros. revealed to THR that a "team member" on the set of the new movie had a positive COVID-19 test and the diagnosis has now been confirmed. The unnamed team member is now in isolation and out of caution production has been stopped. Exactly how long production will be on hold is not specified but we can expect filming to cease for at least two weeks, that's been the standard on other sets. If there are no other positive tests after that, then everybody will likely go back to work.
This is just the latest delay in a line of slowdowns and stalls that go back two years. Following the lukewarm response to Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, it was announced in early 2019 that Fantastic Beasts 3 production would be delayed from the summer of that year to late fall. It was stated at the time that pre-production just needed more time as the plans for the third film were quite extensive. However, things ended up taking even longer than that as, when the fall of 2019 rolled around, it was announced that filming would actually start in the spring of 2020.
And you can all guess where things went from there. All film production stopped in the spring of 2020 as the coronavirus became a global pandemic. Filming was then set to begin in the fall of 2020, and it actually did begin, and then almost immediately stopped again when the movie had a massive cast change. Johnny Depp agreed to leave his role as Grindelwald following his legal issues with ex-wife Amber Heard. Filming was put on pause while a new actor was found.
Mads Mikkelsen was cast to take on the role of Grindelwald, and it finally seemed that Fantastic Beasts 3 could really get to work, but now filming has stopped yet again following this positive coronavirus test. It's a precaution that needs to be taken, to be sure, but one can imagine that everybody involved just wants to get this movie made.
Originally set for release in November of 2020, Fantastic Beasts 3 is now scheduled to open July 15, 2022. This latest delay likely won't change that, assuming the delay is minimal.