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'Dune' takes 2020 release date from 'Fantastic Beasts 3,' signaling trouble for the 'Harry Potter' film

Key Points
  • Warner Bros. announced that "Dune" will be released on Nov. 20, 2020.
  • "Fantastic Beasts 3," which was supposed to be released on that date, will likely now hit theaters in 2021.
  • "The Crimes of Grindelwald," the second installment in the five-movie "Harry Potter" prequel, was widely panned last year.
A still from "The Crimes of Grindelwald"
Source: "The Crimes of Grindelwald"

The much anticipated remake of the cult classic sci-fi novel "Dune" finally got a release date last week, but the film's Nov. 20, 2020, trip to theaters is upending another popular franchise's next movie.

"Fantastic Beasts 3," the third installment of five in the prequel "Harry Potter" saga, had long been expected to be released in 2020, but likely won't hit the big screen until 2021.

Back in 2014, Warner Bros. announced a slate of the studio's upcoming features, two of which were simply titled as "Untitled WB Event." One was for Nov. 16, 2018, which ultimately was "Fantastic Beasts and the Crimes of Grindelwald" and the other, November 20, 2020, was suspected to be the third installment.

Warner Bros. spokesman Paul McGuire told CNBC that the company had not officially announced November 2020 as the release date for "Fantastic Beasts 3."

In January, Deadline was the first to report that production, which had been scheduled for July, wouldn't take place until late autumn. It was unclear at that time if the push would affect the film's potential release date. It now appears that it has.

It's not entirely surprising that Warner Bros. is taking its time with "Fantastic Beasts 3." The second film "Crimes of Grindelwald" was widely panned and brought in the lowest box office haul in the U.S. and internationally of any "Harry Potter" film. It made only $160 million domestically and just under $500 million in foreign markets. While the international box office helped boost the film over its $200 million production budget, it's a paltry showing compared with the rest of the franchise.

Two years ago, moviegoers worldwide shelled out more than $814 million to see "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them," the first film in the series — and that's not counting the $58 million spent on DVD and Blu-ray copies of the film.

Not to mention, the final film in the original series, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," alone garnered more than $1.3 billion at the box office in 2011.

Critics painted "Crimes of Grindelwald" as having "glimmers of the magic" from the original "Harry Potter" films, but not being quite as enchanting as its predecessors. That sentiment was also felt by fans, who balked at several canon-altering plot points and a "hollow and disconnected" story.

With more than 288 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, "Crimes of Grindelwald" has a 37 percent approval rating from critics — lowest of any movie in the franchise so far.

For comparison, "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban" has an approval score of 90 percent and "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" scored a 96 percent.

Alfonso Cuaron, who went on to win an Oscar for directing "Gravity," directed "Prisoner of Azkaban," while David Yates directed the last four "Harry Potter" films in the original series. Yates also directed "Fantastic Beasts," and "Crimes of Grindelwald." He will direct the remaining three films in this new series.

The impending remake of the 1984 film "Dune," based on the 1965 novel of the same name by Frank Herbert, has made headlines recently as more A-list celebrity stars announce their affiliation with the project.

Timothee Chalamet ("Call Me By Your Name"), Oscar Isaac ("Star Wars"), Josh Brolin ("Avengers: Infinity War"), Zendaya ("Spider-Man: Homecoming"), Jason Momoa ("Aquaman"), Dave Bautista ("Avengers: Infinity War"), Javier Bardem ("Loving Pablo") and Stellan Skarsgard ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") have all signed on to play characters in the reboot.

"Dune," a political drama at heart, is set millennia in the future where life in the universe is dependent upon a rare spice found only on one planet. The story follows Paul Atreides, who is set to be played by Chalemet in the new iteration, as he discovers secrets about himself and the planet Arrakis, informally called Dune.

Disclosure: NBC Universal, CNBC's parent company, licenses the rights to "Harry Potter" at its theme parks.