JK Rowling’s wizarding world has grown exponentially ever since that delayed Manchester to London train where she first came up with the concept of Harry Potter. Though there wasn’t much of an indication throughout the seven-book, eight-film series, Rowling didn’t just see wizards as confined to the United Kingdom – she saw them everywhere across the planet. Fans were able to get their first glimpse at the diversity of this world back during Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when wizards from the French and Northern European academies Beauxbatons and Durmstang paid a visit to Hogwarts. In addition to this, there has been a fair bit of online chatter over the years regarding other wizarding academies around the globe, in places as far reaching as Japan, Brazil, and of course, the USA.
Bonded by their shared ability to perform magic, the students and faculty of these schools have never been given much more attention – undoubtedly because Rowling always had her hands full with the tremendous British world of Hogwarts and its key players. Fans have long been kept in the dark as to the possibilities of other places filled with magical customs and people. And as with any distant land, it’s always possible for things to be familiar, yet slightly different. Now with the details of Hogwarts behind us (for the time being anyway), Rowling has focused her energies on a wizarding world across the Atlantic, in America with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
Fantastic Beasts will mark Rowling’s first return to the cinematic Potterverse since 2011’s Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, taking us all the way back to New York City, circa 1926. What is old will now be new for Potter fans, including the revelation that American non-wizards are not referred to by the familiar Muggle label by wizards, but instead as “No-Maj” — pronounced “No-Madge,” as in “No-Magic.” Rowling’s screenplay for the upcoming film is the first time that the word has been used, but given its usage in the film it’s likely to become just as commonplace amongst Potterheads as Muggle is now.
Several more new American wizarding terms will be revealed in the film — the first in a trilogy from Warner Bros. on Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), author of the textbook of the same name for first-year Hogwart’s students. The film also stars Colin Farrell (True Detective), Ron Perlman (Pacific Rim), Ezra Miller (Trainwreck), and Katherine Waterston (Steve Jobs). From the information that is available thus far on this “extension of the wizarding world,” we know that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will follow a young Scamander as he researches and documents his legendary book.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will also mark Rowling’s first foray into screenwriting. While this may excite some fans and assure them that the series is in good hands, it also can be a cause for concern: screenwriting is an entirely different craft from writing novels and inexperience on the page is the quickest way to kill a film – or in this case, an entire series. But given Rowling’s track record, the chances are good she will segue into screenwriting just fine. That being said, director David Yates also has four Potter films under his belt and is a more than reliable choice to help bring this tale to life. What exactly this new series will add to the Potterverse is anybody’s guess, but as of now that guess is delightfully magical.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them casts its spell on U.S. theatres November 18th, 2016.