The upcoming film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (hereafter referred to simply as Fantastic Beasts) is one of the most hotly anticipated movies opening in November. Part of the Harry Potter cinematic universe, this will be the first film related to everyone’s favorite boy wizard in five years – since 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows Part 2 finished the story. And with the Harry Potter movies grossing $8 billion worldwide already, expectations are high that Fantastic Beasts will also make serious bank at the box office. Here’s what we currently know about the Potter prequel.
10. This is the First of Five Planned Movies
Good news for die hard Harry Potter fans. Fantastic Beasts is the first installment in a planned five film series. It is part of J.K. Rowling’s larger Wizarding World, a new entertainment brand and cinematic universe founded by the author and acquired by movie studio Warner Bros. The plan is to make a total of four sequels to Fantastic Beasts, and those sequels have already been greenlit by Warner Bros. – before the first movie has even hit theaters. Of course, if Fantastic Beasts performs above expectations, there will likely be even more movies in the series. So fans have many more Potterverse related movies to look forward to in the coming years.
9. A Familiar Director Returns
The director of Fantastic Beasts is David Yates. He should be familiar to fans of the Harry Potter movies, as he directed the final four films of that series, which also happened to be the most critically acclaimed. Yates is very familiar with the Harry Potter world and J.K. Rowling’s writing, and he knows what audiences expect from these films. Fans should feel confident that they’re in good hands with having David Yates, who is himself a native of England, helming Fantastic Beasts. Although Yates did also direct the box office bomb The Legend of Tarzan that was released this past summer and savaged by film critics. Here’s hoping he gets his mojo back with Fantastic Beasts.
8. The Movie is Not Set in England
If you’re expecting a return to Hogwarts in Fantastic Beasts, think again. While the original Harry Potter film series was firmly rooted in England and was British to the core in terms of the locations and sentiments, the new movies take place in New York City during the roaring 1920s. That makes Fantastic Beasts a period movie, so filmgoers can look forward to sets that show old New York in all its glory. This is a stark departure from the English environment of Harry Potter, and it may take hardcore fans some time to get used to the wizarding world being set in the United States. But the filmmakers have promised lots of action on the streets of the Big Apple, and that they have kept the spirit of the Potter movies intact.
7. It’s J.K. Rowling’s First Attempt as a Screenwriter
While she has written many bestselling books, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has never written a screenplay for a movie based on one of her novels – until now. Fantastic Beasts marks Rowling’s first attempt at screenwriting. Unlike the Harry Potter movies, where she was content to farm out the screenwriting duties, Rowling sat down to write this new movie. However, given her familiarity with the source material (she wrote the book that the movie is based on, after all), we suspect that writing the script wasn’t too difficult for the author. Earlier in 2016, a two part stage play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, debut in London’s West End theater district, which was also written by Rowling herself.
6. A Compendium is Available for the New Movie
To help explain the new movie and its connections to the Potter universe, J.K. Rowling released four pieces of writing earlier this year meant to be an introduction to Fantastic Beasts. The compendium to the film, entitled “History of Magic in North America,” includes information about scourers, brutal and violent magical mercenaries who played a big role in the historic Salem Witch Trials of the 1600s that were held in New England; information about various American wand makers; the role magic played in World War One; Native American magic traditions; details on the way No-Maj/Wizarding segregation was enforced brutally after a violent and terrifying breach of the international statute of secrecy; the institution of Rappaports Law; and descriptions of life in 1920s Wizarding America, with information concerning “wand permits” and the Prohibition of alcohol. For people wanting to get acquainted with the new movie, this compendium can help.
5. The Film is Being Heavily Promoted on… Snapchat?
Despite a hefty budget and big expectations, Fantastic Beasts is being promoted in a relatively low key manner – primarily through the social media site Snapchat. Two Snapchat filters have been created specifically for the movie, with news about the film being funneled through the social media site. Outdoor marketing of the movie has only occurred in New York City, and there have been limited television ads to date. The hope is that social media will be enough to generate buzz leading up to the movie’s release on November 18th. In the U.K., “Wizarding Wednesdays” are being held. These are weekly sweepstakes events where social media is being used to give Harry Potter fans a chance to win tickets to the film premiere, as well as other prizes.
4. Expect a Long Movie
While aiming to attract a young audience for Fantastic Beasts, producers of the movie have created a very long film — the current running time is 132 minutes, or two hours and 12 minutes. That’s very long for a family film geared towards children. A long running time like that also limits the number of times the movie can be shown each day – which could impact box office receipts. To unleash a movie that long means that the producers must be confident that they have a riveting film on their hands – one that will hold the attention of youngsters for more than two hours. How long mom and dad find the movie is another matter. But you can bet there will be plenty of action and special effects galore to captivate kids and keep them from getting restless in their cinema seats.
3. It’s One of the Most Expensive Movies Ever Made
With a production budget of $225 million, Fantastic Beasts is one of the most expensive movies ever produced. It has a production budget just slightly less than The Dark Knight Rises at $230 million, and Avatar at $237 million. That’s a big budget for a movie that does not have an established brand (it’s not technically a Potter movie, really) or a widely known star in the lead role – this is the first blockbuster movie for the film’s lead, actor Eddie Redmayne (best known for playing scientist Stephen Hawking in the movie The Theory of Everything). Yet with the last Harry Potter movie earning more than $1 billion alone at the global box office, producers are clearly betting that the financial investment in Fantastic Beasts will pay off. Plus, there are those sequels to cash in on.
2. A Homosexual Character is Confirmed
Fantastic Beasts, and its planned sequels, contains some more adult themes than the previous Harry Potter movies – namely the relationship between a young Dumbledore (future headmaster of Hogwarts) and Grindelwald, the villain in the new film series. In interviews, J.K. Rowling has confirmed that the new movies springing from the Fantastic Beasts franchise will explore the relationship between Dumbledore and Grindelwald. Making this more interesting is the fact that Rowling also confirmed that Dumbledore is gay, and that he was sexually attracted to Grindelwald before their relationship soured. How all this plays out with children Potter fans remains to be seen. But J.K. Rowling has made clear that this series of movies will be darker and more contemporary than the previous Harry Potter flicks. Interesting…
1. The Title is a Harry Potter Easter Egg
The title Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them comes directly from the Harry Potter books and movies. The name of this new movie is actually one of Harry Potter’s text books at Hogwarts and is featured in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the very first book in the series. The author of the fictional textbook is Newt Scamander, who is the main character in the new movie. The textbook, and new movie, is basically all about magical animals and the character of Scamander is known to study “magizoology.” In the movie Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the textbook is identified as required reading for all first year students at Hogwarts. This is an elaborate, though neat, tie-in with the world of Harry Potter. And looking at this, we can see why Rowling has said that Fantastic Beasts is neither a sequel or prequel to the Harry Potter films and books, despite it taking place much earlier in history.