With just a few weeks to go until the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, the news surrounding the franchise just keeps on coming. Firstly we heard that instead of being three movies, there will now be five, with creator and screenplay writer J.K. Rowling assuring fans that there is a need and scope for five films to be made. After that, Fantastic Beasts co-star, Ezra Miller, explained a little more about the film's connection to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, confirming what many had suspected: the franchise will eventually focus on the Dark Wizard Grindelwald's rise to power. Fans of Harry Potter will know that Dumbledore famously won the Elder wand from him in a duel, and Rowling has since gone on to add that Dumbledore harbored romantic feelings toward his former friend, but they were never reciprocated.
That alone is enough to take on-board, since it sets up the subsequent four films to have an interesting scope indeed - but we can add to that the news that Johnny Depp has been cast to appear in (at least) the second Fantastic Beasts film, with a rumored cameo in Fantastic Beasts (said to be just a shot of his back!). Whom might he be playing? Well, it's strongly rumored that he's been cast as Grindelwald, and that certainly seems a likely choice. Now more news has surfaced about the second Fantastic Beasts installment, concerning its location.
Fantastic Beasts is set in New York, in 1926, when Grindelwald is first beginning his rise to power. However, Empire Magazine (via Digital Spy) ia reporting that director David Yates says the sequel hops across the pond, to Paris. Yates also added that the sequel is "quite ambitous." This change of location would tie in with a previous statement by Yates at a Fantastic Beasts live Q&A:
"We next see Newt in another big capital city. It's not going to be New York. It's somewhere else entirely. [JK Rowling] has actually written the script and it's just as magical and just as marvelous as the first one – but very different."
So far, the only mention of France within the Wizarding World has been when Fleur Delacour competed in the Tri-Wizard tournament on behalf of Beauxbatons school. However, Harry Potter canon does tell us that Grindelwald reigned terror across much of Europe. As a young Wizard he attended Durmstrang school, another magical school featured in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, but he was expelled when they could no longer tolerate his dark experiments. For a brief time, Grindelwald also lived in Godric's Hollow with his aunt, Bathilda Bagshot, whom Harry Potter fans will know from the books and films, too. It was then that he formed his alliance with Albus Dumbledore, though the two later fell out and Grindelwald went on to pursue his grand plan for domination of the Wizarding World, leading to the renowned duel between him and Dumbledore.
Quite where Paris fits into all this is anyone's guess, since the timeline of events hasn't been confirmed yet, so Fantastic Beasts 2 could take place just months later, or a number of years. Also not yet confirmed is whether Eddie Redmayne will be reprising his role of Newt Scamander. There is no real mention of Newt in Dumbeldore or Grindelwald's history, other than the fact that he is the author of the text book, Fantastic Beasts, but Rowling might well be planning to connect it all up in ways we haven't yet conceived. For now, though, it looks safe to ascertain that while Newt's adventures might be the focus for Fantastic Beasts 1, the eventual franchise as a whole will be telling the story of Grindelwald and Dumbledore.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) release date: Nov 18, 2016