Initially, the Harry Potter movies were helmed by a variety of filmmakers. But, it was David Yates who ultimately became the defining directorial voice of the franchise, helming more installments than anyone else and also taking point on the new prequel feature Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them - which has now been confirmed to be the first installment of a five-part franchise for Warner Bros. The studio itself has been increasingly bullish on developing J.K. Rowling's "Wizarding World" expanded universe.
Now, in a move that should make longtime fans very happy, Yates has said that he's ready to take on the sequels as well, starting with the 2018 release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 2.
Speaking to THR, Yates re-affirmed that four sequels are planned for the new franchise, which boasts Rowling's first self-written original screenplay and reveals the backstory behind the author of one of Hogwarts' key textbooks. Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell, Ron Perlman, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler and others star, with the story centering on an attempt to recapture a menagerie of magical creatures accidentally released in New York City.
Said Yates on the subject of sequel production:
“I love making films, and I’ve got a great team, all of whom are like family. I only look at it movie to movie.”
UPDATE: EW is now reporting that while Yates himself says he is "committed" to overseeing all four Fantastic Beasts sequels, a formal deal between the director and WB is not yet in place.
Rowling is currently working on the screenplay for the yet-untitled first sequel, the overarching premise of which is unknown. The first film is set in the 1920s, several decades prior to the events of the Harry Potter books, but are planned to be grounded in the backstory of several prominent characters in the mythos such as Albus Dumbledore (who has not yet been cast) and Johnny Depp's dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Asked about the script's progress, Yates elaborated:
“The first draft was quite whimsical and lyrical, but it felt it didn’t have any heft and we weren’t sure what it was about. Then Jo took a left turn and it was right up my street: it was really intense and dark. Jo and I loved it, but David Heyman and Steve Kloves very wisely said, ‘Whoa, hang on guys, this needs to get some of the lightness back.’ It was after that dark second draft that Jo suddenly found the melody; then, she was away to the races. It was a struggle to keep up with her because she knew what it was: a balance between light and shade.”