Warner Bros. is returning to the Harry Potter cinematic universe with the upcoming spinoff, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling revealed she was in the process of “tweaking” her Fantastic Beasts movie script a few months back, around the time that David Yates (director of the last four HP movies) was reported to be in negations to serve as the film’s helmsman. Now, we have confirmation that both of those processes have been finished.
Fantastic Beasts takes place seventy years before The Boy Who Lived’s story, and will follow young Newt Scamander as he sets out to document various magical creatures of the Wizarding World, starting with those that exist (unseen by Muggle eyes) in New York. WB has already gone ahead and reserved dates for two Fantastic Beasts sequels in the future, with Rowling on standby to script the additional installments – assuming they move forward, that is.
Harry Potter franchise producer David Heyman was attending the world premiere for his latest project, Paddington (which opens in the U.S. next year), when he offered a fresh update on the Fantastic Beasts movie, via The Telegraph. He indicated that the screenplay by Rowling, which Heyman described as “wonderful,” is done, and he confirmed that Yates is lined up to direct, when production gets underway in 2015.
Rowling, in the past, has said that Fantastic Beasts won’t serve as a prequel to the Harry Potter film series but rather, as “an extension of the wizarding world.” The fantasy setting depicted in Rowling’s original Harry Potter books (and the subsequent movie adaptations) is arguably ripe for further exploration, as has been discussed by our editors on the SRU Podcast before. While, on some level, Fantastic Beasts faces the same problem as an HP prequel would of being a “fixed” narrative (spoiler: Newt eventually writes the eponymous textbook), Rowling has a fair amount of freedom, in terms of where she can take Scamander’s story on the way to its final destination.
Yates, while on his break from working in the Wizaring World, directed the pilot for FX’s Middle East drama series Tyrant, and is now working on a new Tarzan movie for WB (costarring the future Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie). The filmmaker’s additional experience will insure that Fantastic Beasts is up to scratch, on a technical level; Yates most likely won’t deviate far from the visual template of previous Harry Potter films with his spinoff, but hopefully he’ll find a way to add something new to the mix at the same time.
Fantastic Beasts will round out an important franchise-building year for WB, what with both Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad getting the Shared DC Universe fully underway; Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur arriving that summer, and potentially kicking off a six-film retelling of the Arthurian legend; and the first LEGO Movie spinoff, the ninja adventure Ninjago, launching in theaters. We’ll have to wait and see which end up being hits and which are misses, once the dust settles.
NEXT: Fantastic Beasts Sequels Release Dates
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in U.S. theaters on November 18th, 2016.