Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is part of the magical realm of Harry Potter (also known as J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World), but it stands apart from its predecessors in one important way: it’s not a strict novel adaptation, much less a traditional one. Although the pic’s title derives from author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter companion book of the same name — which was a textbook on the unique animalia observed and written about by Newt Scamander — most of the film’s characters and plot are completely unique to her original script.
For director David Yates (who previously adapted the final Potter installments: Order of the Phoenix, Half-Blood Prince, and Deathly Hallows: Parts 1 and 2), this is a refreshing new chapter in his work within Rowling’s wizarding world. While promoting his latest movie, The Legend of Tarzan, Yates explained that because there’s no literary origin of the story for fans to have familiarized themselves with before-hand, he won’t let them down by having to cut a favorite scene or supporting character from the source material.
Here’s the direct quote from Yates on the matter (from the above GSNews video):
“No one quite has ownership of [the story] yet in terms of having a relationship with the material, other than the relationship they’ll have with the movie when it comes out. So, it’s sort of lovely in a way. When we adapted the [Harry Potter] books, you would have to leave things out that you hated leaving out because they didn’t quite work within the structure of the storytelling of the movie or the movie would just be far too long. With this, it’s just pure Jo from the first page to the last page.”’
Fantastic Beasts, which marks Rowling’s first turn as a screenwriter, is expected to be the first of three installments in the prequel/spinoff series, and Yates said that script number two has already been written by her. “She’s done the first one. She’s written the second one. She’s got ideas for the third one,” he explained.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which is set several decades before the events of the Harry Potter series began, follows the adventures of Newt Scamader, who arrives to New York City and accidentally releases some of his studied creatures into the no-maj (the American wizard term for muggles, or those without magical powers) world. The local wizarding school — the U.S. version of Hogwarts, basically — is called Ilvermorny, and Rowling has revealed a few key details about her newest academagic creation – writing that the school was founded by a woman named Isolt Sayre, who escaped her oppressive aunt, who had a relationship to House Slytherin at Hogwarts, and fled to America to ultimately found the new institution of wizardry.
Fantastic Beasts is one of two major post-Potter revivals of the franchise. The second, a two-part play series called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, takes place nineteen years after the events of the original series and explores the relationship of the former “Boy Who Lived” with his youngest son, Albus Severus Potter, who “must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.” The script for the plays was written by Jack Thorne based on Rowling’s story and will be sold in book format starting July 31st, 2016.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will open in theaters in the U.S. on November 18th, 2016.