'Fantastic Beasts 3' Pauses Filming After Positive COVID-19 Test

The third Fantastic Beasts movie has been been put on pause after a "team member" tested positive for COVID-19. The yet-untitled third entry of the Harry Potter spin-off series had been shooting in the U.K. for the past four months, after being initially shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, the third Fantastic Beasts movie has suspended filming in the U.K. due to a positive COVID test from a member of production. Warner Bros. confirmed the positive test in a statement to THR, without revealing the "team member's" identity:

"A team member from Fantastic Beasts 3 has tested positive for COVID-19. The diagnosis was confirmed as a result of required and ongoing testing that all production employees receive, and the team member is currently in isolation. Out of an abundance of caution, Fantastic Beasts 3 paused production and will be back up in accordance with safety guidelines."

Fantastic Beasts 3, which will feature returning cast members Eddie Redmayne, Jude Law, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, and Ezra Miller, as well as franchise newcomer Mads Mikkelsen, who replaces Johnny Depp as the dark wizard Grindelwald after the original actor left amid a messy court case. The film has had a bumpy production — cast exits and author controversies notwithstanding — with shooting initially set to begin in early 2020 before the pandemic brought everything to a grinding halt. Fantastic Beasts 3 was eventually able to resume shooting in September, but will now have to be paused for at least two weeks while the "team member," and whomever was in that team member's bubble, quarantines.

Alas, these kind of COVID pauses are becoming par for the course for Hollywood and overseas productions, even as production hubs like the U.K. and Los Angeles remain in fairly strict lockdowns. But Warner Bros. plans to keep production on the film running as smoothly as possible so that Fantastic Beasts 3 can meet its newly rescheduled July 2o22 release date.

Not many details are known yet about Fantastic Beasts 3, which will largely take place in Rio de Janeiro and leads up to the Wizarding World's involvement in World War II. It is the third film in Warner Bros.' planned five-film Fantastic Beasts franchise, and has been a somewhat ill-conceived expansion of the Wizarding World begun by the Harry Potter franchise, though Warner appears to still be planning to turn the franchise into a bonafide cinematic universe, with an HBO Max series in very early development.

Fantastic Beasts 3, which will be directed by longtime Harry Potter filmmaker Yates and is based on a screenplay by J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves, is currently scheduled for release on July 15, 2022.