[dropcap]W[/dropcap]arner Bros. and J K Rowling have announced that the first in a new venture of Harry Potter themed films will be titled Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film will be set within New York, seventy years previous to the story of Harry Potter, with which many will be familiar. The film series will not feature Harry Potter, or many of the recognised characters from the franchise; instead it will follow Newt Scamander, author of wizarding books owned by Harry at Hogwarts.
Despite this new protagonist, the lack of Harry, and an archetypal American locale (which seems to be very far removed from the English countryside of Harry’s world), promises have been made that the film will retain a familiar context for fans. Rowling has delivered assurance to apprehensive aficionados by stating that 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”. As ever, stepping beyond Harry Potter’s narrative to explore other aspects of the wizarding world seems risky. It is a step into the unfamiliar but, with the passion of Rowling behind the new film one should look ahead with excitement rather than anxiety.
Rowling recently gave her support to the film via Facebook by claiming, “I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it,” Rowling’s acute awareness of only carrying on the franchise should it remain intriguing for the fan base is what seems most pleasing about this news.
The concept for the film was conceived after Warner Bros. approached Rowling with the idea of continuing the Harry Potter film franchise. Having witnessed the previous eight Harry Potter movies become Hollywood’s most successful film franchise in history (the films generated $7.7 billion) the potential grossing from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them proved irresistible to Warner Bros. Rowling’s reaction to Warner’s proposal was reportedly one of interest balanced with reservation. The author claimed that whilst it was a “fun idea,” she would need to write the narrative for Newt Scamander, a character she personally felt very protective about.
Rowling said, “Having lived for so long in my fictional universe, I feel very protective of it and I already knew a lot about Newt.” Having picked up on the hunger to make her screenwriting debut and explore Scamander’s world, Rowling added, “As I considered Warner’s proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film.” Thus, with Rowling making her screenwriting debut and introducing Newt Scamander as a protagonist, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be a new venture of two counts.
Returns to hit movies always carry an element of danger about them as it is very easy to install a chapter to the franchise which brings down the esteem held by the previous films. This danger is heavily associated with the prequel and sequel, but fans of Harry Potter will relieved to hear from Rowling herself that “although it will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards where I was so happy for 17 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.” It is important to remember that within the Harry Potter novels Rowling invented a whole new world to dive into; there is a history within the realm of Harry Potter and Hogwarts that the new film will investigate rather than looking to draw more stories out of Harry Potter himself.
Dates and schedules for filming are still merely rumours with nothing confirmed as of now. Yet, with the passion and excitement surrounding the project one suspects it will not be too long before the wizarding world created by J K Rowling is once more arriving in cinemas around the world.
Keep your eyes open for further updates!