Author J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter franchise has thrilled millions of readers since their debut in 1997 in a series of well-received fantasy novels. Following their bestselling success, Warner Bros. adapted the novels across eight films, with an additional two spinoff prequels penned and co-produced by Rowling herself.
The latest film in the long-running franchise, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, opens in theaters everywhere this week, continuing on the adventures of wizard Newt Scamander and his friends while expanding upon Rowling's Wizarding World and building connections between the prequels and main Harry Potter series.
Accordingly, here is a comprehensive ranking of all ten films in the fantasy film franchise, from 2001's adaptation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to both prequel spinoffs. The ranking system averages the scores between review aggregate sites Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, while providing the audience score as well. The audience score doesn't affect the average, but does provide a comparison to see how professional critics regarded the films apart from the general public.
Let's begin with the lowest rated film in the entire franchise:
10. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald - Average Score: 51
The most recent cinematic installment in Rowling's Wizarding World is also its weakest received critically by a significant margin. Following the magical community led by unlikely hero Newt Scamander in tracking down evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald after his escape from imprisonment, the film features the return of future Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore as he teams up with Newt to stop Grindelwald from waging war on the non-magical world.
Critics observed that director David Yates' prequel follow-up was too full of needless subplots at the expense of the story and its characters, while praising the more extensive connections to the main series. "An unfocused, overwhelming and ultimately numbing sprawl that seems to drag on forever," declared Nicholas Barber for the BBC, with Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times noting that: "The movie is too busy bouncing all over the place, stuffing subplot after subplot into the mix." The film has a critics' score of 47 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 55.
As Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has not yet been released into theaters, it does not currently have an audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
9. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - Average Score: 70
Received much more positively than its sequel, 2016's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks both the start of the prequel series and is the earliest film to date in the Harry Potter timeline. A loose adaptation of Rowling's 2001 faux textbook of magical creatures within the Harry Potter universe of the same name, the movie introduces Eddie Redmayne's Newt Scamander, a magizoologist in the 1920s that accidentally frees a whole menagerie of magical fauna under his charge into New York City. As he scrambles to recover them with the help of some newfound American allies, Newt stumbles across a plot that threatens to disrupt the fragile peace between the magical and non-magical communities.
While not received as well as the main series from which it spun off, Yates' inaugural prequel was generally well-regarded by critics for breathing new life into the franchise and expanding upon the magical world. "To its considerable credit, Fantastic Beasts is not the Potter retread it could easily -- and very profitably -- have been," praised Christopher Orr from The Atlantic. A more reserved, but still positive, review from Anthony Lane of The New Yorker observed that: "In all, the movie is a cunning and peppy surprise, dulled only by the news that no less than four sequels await." The film has a critics' score of 74 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 66.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them currently holds an audience score of 79 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.