The marketing of Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald is the subject of my latest recap at The Hollywood Reporter.

The wizarding world established in print by J.K. Rowling and then on film by Warner Bros. keeps expanding with this week’s Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. The movie, the second in the Fantastic Beasts series that is set decades before Harry Potter enrolled at Hogwarts, picks up with Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) being enlisted by Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) to find the recently escaped magical criminal Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp).

Online and Social

The official website is stocked with the standard content and little else. The exceptions are two elements that are meant to engage fans, part of the larger campaign that played into that specific portion of the audience.

Media and Publicity

Later on director David Yates made some remarkably tone-deaf comments that seemed to insinuate the accusations against Depp weren’t real because the actor is such a nice guy on set, a perspective that is exactly what got us to this place. Shockingly, Rowling herself made similar comments.

Without going into too much detail, it’s hard to see how this interview Depp did with Rolling Stone months later helped anyone’s case. If anything, it made the actor seem even more problematic, to the extent of wondering why – especially given his diminishing box office returns – anyone would want to work with him again.

That was followed shortly by an extensive feature in Entertainment Weekly where various elements of the story and characters were shared. There was talk of Young Dumbledore and what he’s like, details on Grindelwald as played by Depp, comments on what the audience could expect in the sequel, confirmation of the story being largely set in Paris and more.

After that largely blew over another set of stills was released along with the news that each film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise would take place in a different city, which was interesting for some reason. Yates in an interview confirmed people’s suspicions/fears, that the film would not address Dumbledore’s sexuality directly, instead just leaving things in the mind of the audience. He tried to thread the needle even more later on, saying this was just one aspect of a massive story that wasn’t being addressed directly, but that there were “sensual” scenes with the character.

More first look photos offered glimpses of a young Newt and other characters, including Dumbledore in an interview with Law where he awkwardly confirmed the future headmaster was gay but that it would not be explicitly addressed in the movie. Redmayne was also interviewed and talked about the darker tone the sequel has compared to the original.

Trying to keep things light, the studio released a first look at baby Nifflers in EW’s Fall Movie Preview issue. Later on Kravitz offered a few odds and ends about her character and the various relationships to others in the Potter universe.

The debut of the final trailer revealed Claudia Kim played Nagini, who at this point is still able to transform from human to snake. The actress spoke about that, but the overall audience reaction wasn’t positive as people felt making an Asian woman less than human was slightly derogatory.

An EW cover story just a couple weeks ago featured all kinds of new interviews and details about the movie, including Depp’s first on-the-record interview about how he got involved with the movie, what the future of the character might be and, to a very small extent, the controversy surrounding his casting.

A bit later the production crew was interviewed about how they created the historic settings for the movie.

Miller became a major face of the movie’s campaign, including a THR profile where he talked about his experience in Hollywood and lots more and a GQ profile where he was hailed as the gender-fluid, whimsical personality that perfectly fit the current cultural moment.

Law talked about the movie on “The Late Show” while Redmayne appeared on “The Tonight Show” to talk about how he prepared to wield a wand once more. Meanwhile Kravitz was interviewed about how she wanted to be more than a token minority in the movie.

Overall

If I were a cynical person I’d say all that “Hey fans, this is just for you!” messaging – both overt and implicit – was a bit cynical in nature, an admission the film is too dense for general audiences and might be kind of a mess.

Research from Fandom released in the last couple days shows that all those negative stories about Depp aren’t likely to make a difference among the core Potterverse fans. They are still going to turn out for the movie, even if they have to hold their noses while doing so. That explains to a large extent why Warner Bros. made the decisions they did with the campaign, putting the rest of the cast out there for fans to interact with, reinforcing that emotional connection and giving them a reason to buy tickets.

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