The release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them moves ever closer, and there's no denying that there's momentum building around the film - with fans of J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World eager to make a return. However, it might be a return to the magic, but it's a step back in time, too, with the action taking place in New York, 1926. In the film, Magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) enters the city with a case full of magical creatures; several of whom promptly escape, wreaking havoc on the streets of New York.
While it has direct connections to the Harry Potter franchise, Fantastic Beasts is a film that will serve as the cornerstone to its own franchise, too. Redmayne and his co-star in the movie, Katherine Waterston, who plays Tina Goldstein, have further explained the differences between these Wizarding World sagas; mainly, the location and vibe of the films.
Speaking at EW's Popfest, Redmayne said:
“The first thing that’s different is it’s set in the 1920s, and it’s set in New York. And it’s this amazing age of the Jazz Age and Prohibition, and there’s a kind of vibrancy to that place at that time. But also there are rumblings of this huge war of good versus evil going on. And this Englishman, this English wizard, arrives in New York, and the beasts getting out sort of sets into motion a whole load of things. There’s that kind of epic J.K. Rowling start of a massive battle thing going on.”
Waterston further elaborated on Redmayne's comments:
"Like in Harry Potter, these sort of reluctant heroes kind of come together and find themselves in the center of this impending war. What’s so lovely about it is you get to know them as this is happening, so you find yourself rooting for them.”
The massive battle to which Redmayne is referring to could well be between the Wizarding community and the No-Maj's, who are fueled in their hate by Mary Lou Barebone (Samantha Morton), leader of the New Salem Philanthropists. Or he could be referring to the wider arc of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, which looks highly likely to focus on the rise of the infamous Dark Wizard, Grindelwald (rumored to be played by Johnny Depp).
With the fairly recent announcement from Rowling that the franchise will now consist of five films instead of the aforementioned three, Redmayne and Waterston also gave their opinions on the news at Popfest, revealing that they didn't know about it until it was revealed to the public. “When she said we were doing five, that was news to us… there’s so much that we’re not privy to,” Waterston said, with Redmayne adding: “The thing is that it’s [Rowling’s] imagination. She has such a passion for it and a specific story that she wants to tell and we get glimpses into that, and as Katherine said, it’s insanely exhilarating when that happens."
Redmayne also hinted at the wider story arc that Rowling said necessitated the five movies - and while Redmayne and Waterston might not be confirmed for any subsequent movies just yet, it certainly seems as though they might be privvy to some inside plot information:
"Newt and his creatures are a way into this world, but there’s a much bigger story here about good versus evil that she wants to tell, and you haven’t seen much of it in the trailers and the clips of the film. But it’s really a core of the story that she’s telling and it has an epic, epic quality to it. … So I do see that [Fantastic Beasts] is a macro story that could take more time.”
If the main focus of the entire Fantastic Beasts Franchise will be Grindelwald's rise to power, it's kind of hard to see where Newt Scamander and his companion could fit into it all in subsequent movies. But as Redmayne himself says, Rowling has a story that she wants to tell and exactly how all that unfolds is anyone's guess.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) release date: Nov 18, 2016