When Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling announced back in the summer of 2013 that she had designs on penning series spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the project took on immediate (and authentic) form. In the intervening months between now and then, little else has happened to help shape her latest Potterverse enterprise; Warner Bros scored a trademark coup allowing them to stretch the film to typical franchise dimensions, a release date has been nailed down, and Alfonso Cuarón’s name came up during director talks.
But the Gravity and Prisoner of Azkaban helmsman diffused the rumors no sooner than they came up, and little and less has been made about the film through the press since (save for a nifty little teaser image from back in July). Grant that Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has a 2016 premiere date; WB isn’t exactly in a race against time to get the thing into production, here, so the lack of anything newsworthy is only natural.
That being the case, though, the studio does seem to want to get their director locked down now instead of later, which is why they’ve entered discussions with David Yates for the gig (according to the crew at Variety). Yates, as even casual Potter fans may recall, directed fully half of the original franchise; he’s presently in negotiations to take the reins for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, depending on whether or not participating in production will clash with his duties on the new Tarzan movie (also releasing in 2016).
All that aside, Yates is kind of a shoe-in for the job, both on creative and financial grounds. Forget the total number of Harry Potter pictures he has under his belt; he directed two of the three top grossing entries in the saga (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince). Admittedly, YA fare of Harry Potter‘s magnitude tends to sell itself, but it says something about Yates that he managed that measure of commercial success not once but twice. If WB is thinking of the bottom line, then he’s probably their man.
And if they’re concerned with maintaining visual continuity from the Harry Potter films to the Fantastic Beasts films, well, that just takes us back to Yate’s Potterverse credentials. No one filmmaker has done more to define Rowling’s work on cinema than Yates; he’s the guy who gave Hogwarts and the rest of the wizarding world a concrete sense of identity from sight to sound to character. While the events of Fantastic Beasts take place a full seventy years before those of the Harry Potter yarns, they both exist within the same realm, and there’s good sense to bringing Yates aboard to link the two related but distinct properties together.
Yet there’s room to argue that bringing a fresh set of eyes into the fold might be a better move than just dialing up Yates. Maybe a newcomer to the series could give Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the necessary sense of separation without putting too much of an artistic gap between them, particularly if they have a good eye for creature design.
Warner Bros, however, have a clear interest in hiring someone already acquainted with all things Potter, so if time affords Yates opportunity to call the shots on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, odds favor him taking it on. We’ll see what happens next.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in US theaters on November 18th, 2016.