Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: JK Rowling announces five movies to come, and everything you need to know

Fast Facts:

  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them release date: November 18, 2016
  • Director: David Yates
  • Cast: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Ron Perlman, Jon Voight, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller
  • Writer: J.K. Rowling

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them release date is only be the beginning of five new wizarding adventures 

If cinema trips haven’t been the same for you since the second Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows movie, worry no more. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them isn’t just going to take away your wizarding woes on its release date of November 18 but there’s going to be four more where that came from. Yep, ready your Butterbeer, JK Rowling herself revealed at the Fantastic Beasts global fan event that alongside director David Yates, she’s planned out another four in the series. Not bad for a first time screenplay writer, eh? She also revealed some tantalising information regarding the plot… 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them plot has links to the Deathly Hallows 

On the surface, Fantastic Beasts tells the story of Newt Scamander who, if you’ve been studying sufficiently about the care of magical creatures, you’ll know as the author of the titular textbook Harry uses in class. Played by Eddie Redmayne, Scamander arrives in New York with a suitcase jam packed with magical creatures, one of whom escapes. Think the TARDIS instead of standard luggage and you’re on the right lines. But this isn’t an entertaining jape to recapture the beast. When Eddie Redmayne says “This one catalyst sets in motion a sort of insane amount of events that just cause chaos” he means it. 

That start gave you goosebumps, didn’t it? But I digress… New York in 1926 is deeply divided. Wizards suppress their abilities to stay hidden from prying eyes. A villainous group of no-maj - that’s the official American word for muggle - led by the menacing Mary Lou (Samantha Norton), known as the New Salem Philanthropic Society, are on the hunt to destroy witches and wizards. But that’s not all, JK Rowling has revealed that this all ties into a period of time we have heard of in the books but never seen.

Hogwarts headmaster Dumbledore’s friend turned arch nemesis Gellert Grindelwald became an all powerful dark wizard during this time period. We can confirm after seeing the first ten minutes that newspapers in the movie are covered in reports of attacks and murders as he wrestles to take power. No one knows where he will strike next and the wizarding world is cowering in fear from multiple angles. Plus, Colin Farrel’s Percival Graves is seen holding the symbol of the Deathly Hallows. If Grindelwald already has the Elder Wand that can beat any wizard, this is a deeply dangerous time. JK Rowling is suitably ominous when she says that this will show events that will surprise fans of the books. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them trailer reveals the movie will feature Dumbledore in some capacity

All director David Yates has revealed so far is that Dumbledore will be involved in a conversation between Colin Farell’s head of magical security, Percival Graves, and Newt Scamander but there are strong hints that Dumbledore will certainly appear further down the line. In the interview scene shown in the trailer Newt has been arrested after the a magical creature escape and Graves asks why Dumbledore is so fond of him even if he was removed from Hogwarts for “endangering human life.” You can see it in action in the MTV Movie Awards trailer for Fantastic Beasts below

It’ll be when we get into Fantastic Beasts sequel territory that things will get interesting when it comes to Dumbledore. As he defeated Grindelwald in 1945, 20 years after Fantastic Beasts is set, it sounds like we’ll be following that narrative. Is it just me, or is this ridiculously exciting? So many fans of Harry Potter have grown up with it and this darker tone is perfectly suited to those now in their thirties who aged with the boy wizard.

The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them sequel will take place in another capital city 

Ok. It’s not much but we know that the action is going to move from New York for the next movie. “We next see Newt in another big capital city and it’s not going to be New York,” teases director David Yates. “It’s somewhere else entirely and Jo has actually written the script.” Hmmm. Time for Newt to return to London? 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them writer J.K. Rowling is adding more lore than we know what to do with 

This is Potter author JK Rowling’s very first screenwriting project and that’s a serious cause for celebration if not a national holiday where we all eat chocolate frogs and drink pumpkin juice. Rowling had previously only worked on the film adaptations in an advisory role and while she was consulted on each decision made (and apparently put her foot down in a number of situations), screenwriter Steve Kloves was responsible for script duties.

So Fantastic Beasts and its sequels mean our first Rowling screenplays, making this effectively even more of an official Potter experience than ever before. It’s also means that we’ve been given a stack of new lore to go along with the new setting in the United States. As mentioned earlier, American muggles are known as ‘no maj’ and Scamander will be paying a visit to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) which is the equivalent to the Ministry of Magic in the UK.

Interestingly, this is hidden inside the very real Woolworth building in New York, with a few more statues of Phoenixes than you might see if you visited it today. Rowling has also revealed an entirely new wizarding school called Ilvermorny in North America where the US wizards Scamander meets were educated. Just like Hogwarts, Ilvermorny has houses which of course already have names. If you went to wizarding school in the USA you would be sorted into Horned Serpent, Wampus, Thunderbird or Pukwudgie. 

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them cast stars Colin Farrell, Eddie Redmayne, and Jon Voight 

While Eddie Redmayne’s co-stars include Colin Farrell as an auror within Congress and Ron Perlman as a New York gangster, the central story is built around Scamander’s friendship with a pair of sisters and a no-maj. Queenie and Porpentina Goldstein are played by Alison Sudol and Katherine Waterston, while muggle Jacob Kowalski is comedian Dan Fogler.

Queenie happens to be a mind reader, known as a Legilimens in Rowling’s world. She's a different kind to the ones we've seen before though and Sudol describes her as a "magical empath" who can feel the emotions of those around her. Porpentina, known just as Tina, is a worker within the Magical Congress who stood up for the wrong person and has been relegated to an office role far below her abilities. I’m guessing that her meeting with Newt will end up proving some of those.

Sudol has said that the sisters have raised each other and have a “deep bond”, while no-maj Jacob is apparently just trying to have a life and open a bakery after coming back from the war. The addition of a non wizard will be a really interesting dynamic as all the muggles we’ve seen previously - Hermione’s parents aside - haven’t exactly been the best examples of humanity. Expect some lost in translation wizard jokes between the quartet.

Other additions to the cast include Jon Voight as a New York newspaper tycoon, the Justice League's Flash Ezra Miller as Morton's character's troubled adopted son Credence, Humans’ actress Gemma Chan, and Selma’s Carmen Ejogo. Also, an open audition was held last year for the role of a young girl called Modesty. Thousands of children auditioned and the role was won by ten-year-old Faith Wood-Blagrove from the UK. Warner Bros was apparently looking for a someone that could bring a “haunted” character with “inner strength and stillness” into reality. We now know this is Mary Lou’s youngest adopted daughter who is exceptionally disobedient. For more, check out our Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them cast guide.  

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them director has a Potter past

And here’s yet another reason to celebrate. David Yates is on director duties. Given that he’s responsible for The Order Of The Phoenix, The Half Blood Prince and both Deathly Hallows films, Yates is a pair of safe hands when it comes to the magical books. Returning too is producer David Heyman so there’s no cause for concern when it comes to those in charge. Add in the fact that shooting has been taking place in London’s Leavesden Studios - the location for the majority of the Potter series - and the magic truly feels like it’s come home.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them book will go on sale on the same day as the movie is released

If you don’t want to brave the cinema on November 18, you can pre-order the screenplay to arrive on the same day. The first of JK Rowling’s wizarding movies to have a screenplay available, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be available in hardback form. There’s also a new version of the ‘real’ textbook written by Scamander that Rowling initially released for the charity Comic Relief all the way back in 2001. It’s not out until March 2017 in hardback though so if you’re desperate to find out the difference between a Knarl and a Kneazle then try hunting down the old paperback version.

The Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them poster collection gives us a closer look at the main characters

If you fancy getting a closer look at Newt and co. you can check out all the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them character posters that have been released. Most intriguing are Samantha Norton’s Mary Lou and her adopted son Credence who we actually see speaking to Percival Graves in the featurette above. Whose side is he on? Interesting…

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GR+ news lead Louise can often be found watching horror, drinking coffee and beating you at The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth.
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