The Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is moving forward, with Variety reporting that the director of the final four Harry Potter movies will return to direct at least the first film in the new trilogy. The spinoff is based on a novella Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling wrote for charity back in 2001. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is one of Harry Potter’s textbooks that explains all of the magical creatures in J.K. Rowling’s fictional universe, ‘written’ by the fictional “magizoologist” Newt Scamander.
Rowling is set to make her screenwriting debut with the Fantastic Beasts films, which will take place in the same magical universe seventy years before Harry Potter’s time and follow Scamander’s journeys cataloging magical species.
“Although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for seventeen years, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is neither a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series, but an extension of the wizarding world. The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway,” Rowling said in a statement in the fall, when the project was announced.
David Yates directed the last four movies in the Harry Potter franchise, from The Order of the Phoenix onwards, and so was a natural choice for Warner Bros to approach to direct the spinoff. Yates is obviously very familiar with the Harry Potter universe, and so will approach the material in a more familiar way than a new director would. Yates also has a strong relationship with Rowling, who was highly involved in the Harry Potter movies, which is another reason he was a good choice to direct the author’s screenwriting debut. The Fantastic Beasts movies will probably have a similar look and feel as the Harry Potter films.
The decision for Yates to return to a franchise with which he is familiar is reminiscent of Peter Jackson’s return to direct The Hobbit trilogy after making The Lord of the Rings movies, returning to work with similar material in the same fictional universe.
None of the cast of the original Harry Potter films are set to appear in the spinoff at this point. Variety reported that Daniel Radcliffe recently said Warner Bros had not approached him about playing Harry Potter in the films and that he has no intention of reprising the role. Emma Watson has said that she would play Hermoine Granger if the filmmakers wanted her to, but Rowling seems to want the spinoff to be quite separate from Harry Potter. It’s uncertain how the actors from the original franchise could be worked in given that Scamander lives seventy years before their time.
Rowling has been writing a lot these days, and even returning to the Harry Potter world despite her previous assertions that the seventh book in the series would be the final Harry Potter story. At the beginning of July, Rowling posted a short story on the fansite Pottermore about a middle-aged Harry Potter and friends attending the Quidditch World Cup final with their families. The story is written as a gossip column in the Potter world newspaper The Daily Prophet by the unscrupulous columnist Rita Skeeter and is a scathing critique of tabloid journalism. A new character in the Harry Potter universe, the popular witch singer Celestina Warbeck, was revealed in another, more recent story posted on Pottermore.
There’s been plenty of writing from Rowling outside of Harry Potter as well. Aside from writing her first screenplay with Fantastic Beasts, Rowling has begun a new series of detective novels called the Cormoran Strike series written under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The second book in the series, The Silkworm, was recently released, and Rowling has said there will be at least seven more books about the illegitimate son of a rock star turned war vet who has a prosthetic right leg and uses his ex-military sleuthing skills to make a living as a detective.
Rowling’s novel Casual Vacancy, her first written outside the Harry Potter series or for an adult audience, is being adapted into a BBC miniseries. The book was published in 2012 and has sold 6 million copies since then, a predictable success given the adoration surrounding Harry Potter from adults as well as youth. The novel deals with small-town politics as well as social issues regarding class and drug addiction. The book’s events take place in a suburban town in the U.K. called Pagford, where a city council seat is left open after the death of one of the beloved parish councillors.
The first Fantastic Beasts movie is scheduled to hit theaters November 18, 2016. It’s uncertain when production will start, as Yates is currently filming Tarzan, but he’ll likely start on the movie soon after Tarzan wraps. Harry Potter is the highest-grossing franchise of all time, having made $7 billion worldwide from eight films according to Variety. Warner Bros is hoping to continue cashing in by using the same magic for Fantastic Beasts.
More from Entertainment Cheat Sheet:
- Harry Potter World Lives on With J.K. Rowling’s New Character
- Will ‘Mockingjay’ Films Makes Changes From the Book?
- 4 Popular Books Reese Witherspoon Is Bringing to the Big Screen
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