With the first spin off movie from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, less than a month away, the Warner Bros. marketing machine is in full swing as promotion for the movie continues. The feature will be directed by David Yates - who was also behind the camera for Harry Potter entries The Order of the Phoenix, The Half Blood Prince and both Deathly Hallows movies - and will star Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander.
The movie is loosely based on a J.K. Rowling book of the same name; originally released in 2001 for the charity Comic Relief, the Fantastic Beasts book was given the appearance of a Hogwarts textbook written by the film's protagonist Scamander. The short work described and recounted stories about many amazing creatures in the Potter-verse such as the Billywig and the Niffler and as a nice touch, also included scrawlings from the likes of Harry and Ron who add their own unique insight to Newt Scamander's entries.
One of those creatures, the Thunderbird, has now become the subject of the cover of Empire Magazine's subscriber-only December 2016 issue. The image also shows Redmayne's Scamander seemingly unaware that a giant bird monster is loitering threateningly only a few feet behind him. Some magizoologist he is.
The Thunderbird - a creature presumably native to Tracy Island - also features briefly in the movie's Comic-Con trailer but did not have an entry in Rowling's Fantastic Beasts... book and despite a passing resemblance to the Hippogriff, hasn't featured in any of the Harry Potter movies either. The beast was actually first mentioned on the interactive Harry Potter website Pottermore and even has a house named after it at Rowling's newly invented American version of Hogwarts, Ilvermorny.
Much of the buzz surrounding Fantastic Beasts... has been positive thus far and reactions to the trailers have been mostly complimentary. Indeed, of all the spin off books Rowling has released, this one certainly has the most movie-adaptation potential. Somehow, it's hard to imagine Quidditch Through The Ages becoming a box-office hit.
However there remains a sense of cynicism surrounding the release from some quarters. With the source material weighing in at a mere 88 pages long, and Rowling stating Fantastic Beasts... could become a five movie series, it's hard to shake the feeling that Warner Bros. are intent on milking the Harry Potter cash cow indefinitely. Clearly, the franchise has a rabid and loyal fan base who remain hungry for Potter-related media but if the quality of the original Harry Potter books and movies isn't maintained, the studio could risk tarnishing a magical legacy.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) release date: Nov 18, 2016