Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them - the Harry Potter series prequel/spinoff written by the Wizarding World creator herself, J.K. Rowling - is the next major tentpole on the horizon, following the release of Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange in U.S. theaters. Early box office tracking for the new Wizarding World adventure is robust enough to suggest that Warner Bros. Pictures wasn't being overly-presumptious in officially announcing a 2018 theatrical release date for a Fantastic Beasts sequel (one that, like its predecessor, is being written by Rowling and will be directed by David Yates).
It remains to be seen if Rowling's official plan to write five Fantastic Beasts movies total actually comes to fruition but again; unless Fantastic Beasts significantly performs below the current box office expectations, it seems safe to assume that the sequel is going to happen. We even have our first proper casting news for the next Fantastic Beasts movie, concerning an unexpected A-list addition to the franchise.
Deadline is reporting that Johnny Depp is playing a co-starring role in the Fantastic Beasts movie sequel, though details beyond that are being kept under-wraps for the time being. The Deadline article claims that Depp might even make a "tiny turn" (read: cameo appearance) in the first Fantastic Beasts film, meaning fans may not have to wait very long to find out more about who the actor will be portraying in the Wizarding World. In fact, we might already know he's playing...
Potential MILD SPOILER for Fantastic Beasts ahead.
Some of the Fantastic Beasts TV spots released to date have referenced Gellert Grindelwald: the dark wizard whom Albus Dumbledore was friends with (and was secretly in love with) when the pair of them were younger - and whom Dumbledore eventually had to defeat in battle, securing control of the Elder Wand in the process. Warner Bros. has even released a video in which Fantastic Beasts costar Ezra Miller recounts these events (as first documented in the book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows), noting that Grindelwald would have been rising to power around the time that Fantastic Beasts takes place, in the year 1926. (Hint, hint.)
Grindelwald won't be the focus in the first Fantastic Beasts movie. The Dark Wizard rose to power in Europe and Fantastic Beasts takes place in New York - where protagonist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) gets into trouble, after a number of the Fantastic Beasts that he keeps in his magical traveling case manage to get loose, thus setting the film's plot into motion. Hypable is reporting that Depp will be playing the Grindelwald character properly in the Fantastic Beasts sequel. Hypable also cites "a source involved with the film" that has informed the site that Depp will only be seen from the back near the very beginning of the first Fantastic Beasts, during a shot that can even be briefly glimpsed in one of the official Fantastic Beasts TV spots.
The idea of Depp being cast to play the "big baddie" Grindelwald in the five-movie Fantastic Beasts narrative arc that Rowling is plotting out isn't too difficult to believe. That doesn't mean it's accurate either, seeing as Depp could just as well be playing a different role altogether in the Fantastic Beasts sequel and not necessarily a character who was introduced in the previous Harry Potter movies or books, either. With Fantastic Beasts movie #1 right around the corner though, it won't be long before we get more concrete information on Depp's involvement with the franchise... and thus, can better gauge how everyone feels about it.
- Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) release date: Nov 18, 2016