Column: Rein in the creatives


Alex Gray

Alexander Gray

Even the greatest minds behind two of the world’s most-beloved franchises need a little help to find success.  

The latest installment in J.K. Rowling’s “Wizarding World,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald,” was released to negative critical reactions. Even some of the most hardcore Harry Potter fans had a difficult time loving the new film, many confused by it’s left-field, nonsensical cliffhanger ending.

Rowling is the sole credited writer behind “The Crimes of Grindelwald.” For an accomplished writer such as herself, that should be no issue, but the response to the movie shows that may have not been the best decision.

George Lucas, most well known as the creative visionary behind “Star Wars,” was given primary control as director of the prequel movie trilogy. Where the original trilogy from the 70s and 80s received worldwide critical acclaim, the following prequel trilogy was lambasted for its poorly written scripts and shallow characters.

It could be argued that the first “Star Wars” was successful in spite of Lucas’ efforts. The first film, “A New Hope,” went by many names in earlier drafts, Lucas’ final draft named “The Adventures of Luke Starkiller as taken from the Journal of the Whills,” a name that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

Lucas’ wife at the time, Marcia Lucas, edited a large portion of the film into what fans know and love today. The sequels brought other writers and directors on board, George Lucas only dictating broader story beats.

George Lucas was given free-reign and surrounded by “yes-men” as director and writer for “The Phantom Menace,” no one daring to say ‘no’ to any of his ideas. The devout “Star Wars” fanbase heel-turned on Lucas after its release, their love turned to vitriol by Jar Jar Binks and a toddler Anakin Skywalker.

It’s not difficult to draw parallels between Lucas and Rowling with each of their prequel series. It’s likely production staff on “Fantastic Beasts” are too scared to be anything other than “yes-men” to Rowling.

Fortunately for Rowling, the original “Harry Potter” series has generated the author enough goodwill with her fans that one flop will not tarnish her reputation. “The Crimes of Grindelwald” is only the second of five films in the “Fantastic Beasts” series, allowing her a chance for course correction. However, if Rowling chooses to continue writing alone, it also allows a chance for that goodwill to completely wither away.