When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 reached its fitting conclusion in the summer of 2011, it brought an end to a grand saga which had stretched for a decade over eight movies. Many eyes would have been moist, many lips would have quivered, as a final farewell was to be bid to the wizards and witches of Hogwarts. But when a movie franchise gathers close to $7.7 billion worldwide, can it ever be allowed to truly end? Call it opportunistic, call it being greedy, or call it simply business, Hollywood studio Warner Bros. could simply not allow this to fade in the darkness of the night. Most certainly, plans on how to expand this universe would have been discussed in boardrooms even before the release of the final movie. As for another epic saga, The Lord of the Rings, the studio could rely on author J.R.R. Tolkien’s previous novel The Hobbit, to keep the Middle Earth brimming with life, but there was little that Warner Bros. could do with the Harry Potter series as J.K. Rowling had not written another chapter in this story. Or had she? In 2001, the book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them had been published (written by J.K. Rowling, of course), which was actually the fictional book belonging to Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The fictional book had come to life, and aha, Warner Bros. was now interested.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is going to be filmed as a trilogy (that certainly expands the universe further!). The movie’s protagonist will be Newt Scamander, the fictional writer of the fictional book in the Harry Potter universe. As mentioned in the book, Scamander became a magizoologist — a person who studies magical creatures — because of his own interest in fabulous beasts and the encouragement of his mother, an enthusiastic Hippogriff breeder. He joined the Ministry of Magic in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and his career has been quite a lively one. Information in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was collected by Scamander through observations made over years of travel and across five continents. The book itself contains the history of Magizoology and describes 75 magical species found around the world.
Now there is enough here to start working on a screenplay, keeping in mind the already existing world of magic as created in the Harry Potter series. This movie series is going to be set seventy years before Harry’s story begins, so we are bound to have a lot of new characters, though a few known faces might reappear too. Rowling is working on the screenplay for the film, so I am sure, the nuances of sticking to the magical universe we are familiar with will be taken care of. No casting decision has been announced yet; the role of Newt Scamander must surely be in much demand lately. And as Variety reports, things seem to have been finalised as far as the director is concerned. It is David Yates himself, the one who directed the last four movies in the Harry Potter series, who will helm the first in the proposed new trilogy. Getting Yates back is almost a no-brainer, for he is the one most acquainted with the magical world of Harry Potter, and he has had the longest association with the series. Not only the existing linkage, but the fact that his movies were largely well-received, and especially the finale drew a lot of praises, Yates seems the obvious go-to guy for another such magical story.
The first part of the movie is planned to be released in November 2016. So there is quite a while to go. David Yates is currently filming Tarzan which too has a 2016 release date planned, and is going to be distributed by Warner Bros. So the studio and the director would have chalked out a production plan to ensure that the two 2016 films are completed in time. Casting news too should start following soon, but it will be some time before principal photography begins. If things go ahead as planned, one could very well see David Yates continue on for the other two instalments of the series. But there is some way to go before jumping onto those conclusions. As of now, there is a lot to be excited about, for the world we thought we had left a few years back, is about to welcome us back. There is a also a good enough reason to be a bit skeptical, for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them pales in comparison to the kind of source material that Rowling’s Harry Potter series turned out to be for building a franchise. Having Rowling as the screenwriter helps somewhat, but getting David Yates back to direct the movie is probably the wisest call made, and hopefully will lead to bright results. And magical too!