On September 12, 2013, Warner Bros. and J.K. Rowling announced that a Harry Potter spinoff film is in development.
The studio revealed that Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, is writing the screenplay for a new story following Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s Newt Scamander.
“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,” said Rowling in a statement one year ago last week. “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 felt inspired to write the film after the initial idea of adaptating Fantastic Beasts came in from Warner Bros. She said she felt “protective” of her Wizarding World and didn’t want anyone else to write it. “As I considered Warners’ proposal, an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge. That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros,” she said.
It’s been a full year since we first heard about this spinoff, so what have we learned in that time?
1) David Heyman is returning to produce. The producer of all eight Harry Potter movies is returning to manage Beasts. Hypable was the first outlet to obtain comments from the producer after the initial announcement, and Heyman was chomping at the bit to tell us more. “It’s going to be very good. I assure you,” he said.
2) David Yates is returning to direct. The most recent news we’ve learned about Fantastic Beasts is that the Order of the Phoenix through Deathly Hallows, Part 2 director is back for the first film. Though Warner Bros. has yet to make a formal announcement, reports indicate he is deep in talks to helm.
3) It will be released November 18, 2016. This means it’s taking over the date that is currently occupied by Lionsgate for Catching Fire, Mockingjay, Part 1, and Mockingjay, Part 2. It’s the former home of a few Harry Potter and Twilight films too.
4) Warner Bros. is planning a trilogy. The New York Times was the first to report earlier this year that the studio is hoping to turn Fantastic Beasts into a three-part series. Then in August, the studio planted flags in November 16, 2018 and November 20, 2020 for “Event Films.” We speculated last month that these two movies are actually Fantastic Beasts 2 and Fantastic Beasts 3.
5) There will be a theme park attraction… and a lot more. Speaking to investors last year, Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara said that the plan is to turn this film into a full-blown franchise and specifically referenced a theme park “attraction” in conjunction with Universal. Expect an incredible amount of merchandise as well.
So what’s ahead in year two? Now that a director is in place, expect the search for cast members to begin. We also expect Warner Bros. to announce Yates as the director soon.
Also, we would love for J.K. Rowling to talk more about Fantastic Beasts. I said earlier this year that the author should publish some sort of eBook with a prequel story that introduces fans to Newt’s world in 1920s New York. It would help us understand why we should be excited about this new protagonist.