Next week marks the release of the third J.K. Rowling-scripted Fantastic Beasts film, a series that has overstayed its welcome.

This latest iteration is subtitled The Secrets of Dumbledore. As if to wrong-foot those who would smirkingly speculate that one of Dumbledore’s secrets is his sexuality, the film opens with the old wizard and his former lover-turned-nemesis Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen, replacing a disgraced Johnny Depp) mourning the end of their love affair, which at least makes the homosexual subtext hinted at in previous films explicit.

But that, alas, is about it for any kind...

Next week marks the release of the third J.K. Rowling-scripted Fantastic Beasts film, a series that has overstayed its welcome.

This latest iteration is subtitled The Secrets of Dumbledore. As if to wrong-foot those who would smirkingly speculate that one of Dumbledore’s secrets is his sexuality, the film opens with the old wizard and his former lover-turned-nemesis Grindelwald (now played by Mads Mikkelsen, replacing a disgraced Johnny Depp) mourning the end of their love affair, which at least makes the homosexual subtext hinted at in previous films explicit.

But that, alas, is about it for any kind of coherence, or interest, or originality. Instead, there are beasts, fantastic and not-so-fantastic, Eddie Redmayne looking irritatingly kooky and flustered, and an increasingly incomprehensible mythology that makes one wonder if Rowling, her co-screenwriter Steven Kloves and director David Yates have any idea how the series will conclude.

We have been threatened with five films in this series, though it looks like Dumbledore, the third of the Fantastic Beasts pictures, might be the last. Not only is the projected box office opening of $50 million considerably less than that of either the 2016 original ($74 million) or the 2018 sequel ($62 million) — themselves both seen as disappointments — but the off-screen antics of the cast and crew are becoming an embarrassment to Warner Brothers.

Though Depp has been canned and replaced by a better actor, Ezra Miller playing secondary antagonist Credence Barebone is now problematic because of various allegations of theft and assault that have been leveled against him. And, of course, there is the J.K. Rowling issue.

By now, you will know where you stand on Rowling, so there is no point in rehashing the issues at play there. But her outspoken social and political views have certainly not endeared her to many who otherwise would have bought tickets. While it seems unlikely that there will be any formally organized boycotts or protests, Rowling will not be involved in publicizing the film in any way — about which both she and the studio seem perfectly happy.

Rowling is cheerfully tweeting about beards and trans issues, but makes no mention whatsoever of a major blockbuster film she has co-written and produced that is to be released in British theaters this weekend. One might think that she has been asked — or instructed — not to say anything.

But leaving aside issues of cancelation and bad blood with the filmmakers, it is also unclear why this franchise ever existed in the first place. Say what you like about the weaknesses of the Harry Potter series, but those films exist as faithful — perhaps overly faithful — adaptations of the books and are a pleasant enough illustrated companion to them. Conversely, Fantastic Beasts has no particular raison d’etre, being mired in incomprehensibility from the off. There can be no danger or jeopardy about its principal character of Dumbledore, and few are likely to be invested in the fate of Eddie Redmayne’s Newt Scamander.

The only reason for the series to crank its computer-generated bones wearily into life is money. And there’s a good deal less of that than there used to be.

Escapist cinema is something we could all do with more of, and there may even be those who are more inclined to see a Fantastic Beasts film out of solidarity with its creator. But this watered-down, lackluster excuse for fantasy is something that audiences could well do without. When it inevitably flops at the box office, let’s put these beasts out of their misery for good.