The Wizarding World invented by J.K. Rowling’s began with the Harry Potter books, which were swiftly followed by the hugely successful film adaptations. So strong and compelling was the universe she created that the Potter fandom’s appetite for all things magical showed no signs of abating once the movie franchise had run its course. Luckily, Rowling’s imagination knows no bounds either, and she has been happy to extend the Harry Potter world still further. In fact, the Harry Potter world has now been branded as J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Franchise, with new additions such as the stage play sequel Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
However, Rowling has also taken fans back in time with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Set to be released this fall, Fantastic Beasts is based on the text book that Harry Potter studied at Hogwarts, which was written by the film’s central character, Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne).
Just days ago, Warner Bros. released a new poster for the movie, and hinted that “something FANTASTIC” would be announced soon. Now, Warner Bros. have heightened the anticipation still further, by releasing a new featurette in which both Rowling and Redmayne discuss the movie and the character of Newt Scamander. Fantastic Beasts follows Newt on his first visit to New York City, where he struggles to come to terms with how the Wizarding community operates there. Trouble ensues when Newt’s magical case (containing many fantastic beasts), is accidentally opened by Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler), a muggle – or “no-maj” as they are known in America.
“My heroes are always people who feel themselves to be set apart, stigmatized, or othered,” Rowling explains. This would certainly be true of the main trio from Harry Potter; Harry was The Boy Who Lived, Ron was from a poor family, and Hermione was muggle-born, so what exactly is Newt’s difference? Well, Redmayne declares that Newt feels more at home with Magical Creatures than he does with human beings, so it would make sense that he would struggle to fit into New York and its Wizarding community. Once the magical case is opened, the implications are far-reaching and, since Newt’s knowledge is needed to rectify things, Redmayne reveals that “he starts to look a lot more like a hero.”
Newt is described as a hero by both Rowling and Redmayne and indeed, Warner Bros. declare him to be a “new hero for a new era of magic,” so it’s a lot to live up to. Given the huge fanbase of anything Harry Potter related, it’s hard not to see Fantastic Beasts doing well at theaters, but it’s sustaining that popularity that will be the issue. Warner Bros. appears to have faith; the studio has already ordered at least two more films within the Fantastic Beasts realm, but will fans stick around for them?
Obviously, the Harry Potter association is the biggest draw and, from the mention of Albus Dumbledore in the second trailer to the fact that David Yates has directed the movie after directing the final four Harry Potter films, it seems as though Warner Bros. is being mindful of that. Indeed, the above featurette starts with John Williams’ classic Harry Potter theme. Hopefully, given Rowling’s talent and imagination, plus her dedication to the Wizarding World, Fantastic Beasts will herald the start of a new fantastic adventure.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in U.S. theaters on November 18th, 2016.