The upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will introduce the world to magizoologist Newt Scamander (Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne), the wizard who shall one day write the eponymous textbook that, in turn, will be studied by countless students who attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, Harry Potter among them. However, when the movie picks up with Scamander in 1926, he’s only just completed his journey around the world to find and document a wide variety of “fantastic beasts” for the benefit of the Wizarding World (and away from the prying eyes of the non-magic users in this world aka Muggles and No-Majs).
Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling penned the script for Fantastic Beasts, while David Yates – who took over as director on the Harry Potter movies starting with Order of the Phoenix – is currently filming the fantasy adventure at Watford’s Leavesden Studios. All the same, Yates took a break from production to talk about the Harry Potter spinoff’s storyline and the experience of putting together a period piece that takes place in Rowling’s imaginative Wizarding World.
Here’s what Yates told Empire, with regard to what Newt’s been up to when Fantastic Beasts gets underway:
“Newt is a magizoologist who’s just completed a global journey to find and document magical creatures for a book he plans on writing. His case is important because it contains some of the creatures he’s been researching. It may be small, but there’s a whole world within.”
The Fantastic Beasts teaser trailer offers a glimpse of Scamander and his special “case” – which has presumably been enchanted with an Extension Charm, given that it contains quite the wide variety of magical creatures that he’s collected over the course of his journey… at least one (if not more) of which gets loose, when Scamander stops over in 1920s New York.
A character named Percival Graves (Colin Farrell) can be seen surveying the aftermath of one escaped “fantastic beast” in the Fantastic Beasts teaser, and said “beast” looks to be quite massive – or, at the least, rather destructive. While it could well be a dragon that’s responsible for this mess, something like the red-eyed serpent known as the Ashwinder (which is one of several creatures confirmed to appear in Fantastic Beasts) could just as well be the culprit here, too.
On that note – you can check out a new image of Scamander in Fantastic Beasts (hurrying to contain yet another escaped magical creature, perhaps?), below:
Yates informed Empire that the idea of magical creatures running amok in a historical setting populated by non-wizards in general is a big part of the narrative (and thus, the conflict) in Fantastic Beasts:
“On some days we’ve had several hundred extras, all done up in 1920s costumes. We are going into the magical world, but we’re bringing the magical characters into the Muggle, or ‘Nomaj’, world.”
Rowling’s Harry Potter stories explored themes of prejudice and intolerance – as they exist in the Wizarding World – and it’s been confirmed that Fantastic Beasts will examine similar ideas, as the film reveals that (unsurprisingly) No-Majs in the 1920s are exceptionally wary of “witchcraft” of any kind. Hence the gravity of the scene in the Fantastic Beasts teaser, where the witch Porpentina (Katherine Waterston) is shown nervously addressing a wizard council overseen by Seraphina (Carmen Ejogo) – who, by the look of it, is a high-ranking official in the wizard government – about Scamander’s magical critters having gotten out and caused a scene.
That’s not to say Fantastic Beasts is all seriousness and darkness. Far from it, producer David Heyman has compared the movie to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire in terms of tone – and said the spinoff boasts “romantic comedy, that fish-out-of-water humor, that very human, natural character comedy,” much of which comes at the expense of the do-daring Newt Scamander himself. If so, then the spinoff may yet re-capture the spirit of the best Wizarding World adventures that’ve come before it.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in U.S. theaters on November 18th, 2016.