Warner Bros. has two movies from director David Yates due for arrival in 2016: the first is a new Tarzan big screen adventure, while the other is Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - a spinoff from the Harry Potter franchise (where Yates made his name). Alexander Skarsgård is headlining as the famous Ape-Man in the former of those two films, while the latter is currently without a lead - but that may change in the fairly near future.
Yates' top choice to star in Fantastic Beasts is reported to be none other than Eddie Redmayne. The Oscar-winner, if he signs on, would portray Newt Scamander: the famous magizoologist who is responsible for writing the Fantastic Beasts manuscript in the first quarter of the 20th century - some seventy years before Harry Potter and his fellow Hogwarts students will have Scamander's work as one of their staple textbooks at school.
The Fantastic Beasts film script - which Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling finished a while back - will reportedly take place (at least partially) in New York - suggesting the film might well introduce filmgoers to some U.S. members of the Wizarding World, for the first time. Variety's report confirms as much, mentioning there are four other "main roles" in the movie: two American girls and two American boys. No details about those characters are provided beyond that, though.
Redmayne, earlier this year, got a fair amount of attention for his wonderfully campy turn in the Wachowskis' space opera Jupiter Ascending (which WB distributed), not long before he took home an Academy Award for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. Redmayne recently wrapped his role as transgender pioneer Lili Elbe in Tom Hooper's true-story drama The Danish Girl - meaning, he has both big-budget and prestigious film acting experience under his belt right now.
Scamander is an unknown entity, so Redmyane (or whoever ends up playing the role) would have extra room to infuse the character with whatever personality quirks that he so pleases - within the perimeters of the role as it was scripted by Rowling, anyway. Redmayne has already proven that he's lead material, so again - now we wait to see if he strikes a deal for the Harry Potter spinoff.
As for Fantastic Beasts in general: there's so much of the Wizarding World that the Harry Potter movies (and also the books alike) never touched upon, it does seem a bit of a shame to never explore that universe again on the big screen. Fantastic Beasts will surely bear some aesthetic resemblance to the saga of The Boy Who Lived - given the familiar faces working behind the scenes. On the other hand, with new characters, a historical time period, and (presumably) a very different storyline in place, Fantastic Beasts has the potential to forge its own unique (and memorable) identity.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in U.S. theaters on November 18th, 2016. Warner Bros. has already staked out November 16th, 2018 and November 20th, 2020 as release dates for the sequels, should the studio decide to moved ahead with a Fantastic Beasts movie trilogy after all.