Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is, on one level, a whimsical adventure that takes place in the Wizarding World and follows the Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), as he scrambles to recover the magical creatures that have gotten loose from his enchanted briefcase in New York, circa 1926. The film is also the first chapter in a larger saga about the dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald and his rise to power, as was crafted by Harry Potter and the larger Wizarding World’s creator, J.K. Rowling.
Warner Bros. Pictures confirmed an official 2018 release date for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2 (official title TBA) with Fantastic Beasts director David Yates returning behind the camera, before the first installment was released in theaters. With Fantastic Beasts having eclipsed its $180 million budget at the global box office after its first week of theatrical release in the U.S., it’s safe to assume that WB is going to be moving forward with Fantastic Beasts 2 as planned.
Yates has already confirmed a few things about Fantastic Beasts 2 (which, like with the first Fantastic Beasts, Rowling is writing), including its setting and that it features a younger Albus Dumbledore as a key character. Yates has since confirmed the production timeline for Fantastic Beasts 2 during an interview with ScreenSlam, along with his general thoughts about the story for the sequel:
We’re in preproduction. We start shooting in July. That’s going to take me a couple of years – we’ll be back here in two years’ time presenting it. I’m excited about the next one. It’s very different to the first one. The next one is like a dream. It’s quite dark and interesting and lyrical, and very different to the first one. It’s a testament to Jo as a writer that she’s not repeating herself. She’s stretching for something that feels much more unusual, actually. So for me, as a filmmaker, that’s exciting.
It only makes sense for Fantastic Beasts 2 to be “quite dark” even compared to its predecessor, seeing as the sequel looks to focus more directly on Grindelwald’s continuing rise to power and takes place in Europe: the place where the majority of Grindewald’s followers are based. The official logline for the film similarly notes that “[Fantastic Beasts 2] moves deeper into an increasingly dark time for the wizarding world, where Newt and our other heroes have to decide on their allegiances.” One imagines the tone of the sequel will be closer to the “cold war” movie feel of the Yates-directed Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, another film that examines life in the Wizarding World on the eve of a full-blown war within the wizarding community breaking out.
Yates also re-confirmed to ScreenSlam that although he’s not officially set to direct all five planned Fantastic Beasts movies yet, he intends to see the series through to its end:
I think I may. I don’t know yet. There such big endeavors, one can only look at one at a time, really. That’s what you have to do. I want to carry on working on them in some shape or form because I love the people I’m working with. It’s inspiring and exciting to be working with these people.
The original plan announced by WB and Rowling was for Fantastic Beasts to encompass a trilogy of movies, but the franchise is now being plotted out with five installments in mind instead. Fantastic Beasts has been by and large well-received by critics and general moviegoers so far, yet the overall reaction has (arguably) been less enthusiastic than it was for the Harry Potter film franchise before it. Coupled with how Fantastic Beasts appears to be appealing to Harry Potter’s older and established fanbase foremost and there is valid reason to wonder if the series will ultimately make it to five movies. Regardless, it sounds as though Yates is committed to seeing this venture through to its end, whenever that may be.