The Harry Potter film spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is well into production, but details about the film itself have been limited. Key cast members have been revealed, along with the fact that the movie is the first set in the Wizarding World to take place in the United States... aside from that, very little was known.
Fantastic Beasts director David Yates (who also directed four of the eight Harry Potter films) is in midst of production on the movie, in order to make a Fall 2016 launch date; meaning, it's too early to expect any juicy story details for the project to be officially revealed. However, we can offer you a SPOILER-FREE appetizer regarding the film's plot, in the meantime.
According to EW, Fantastic Beasts starts off with the magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne, who won an Oscar for portraying Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything) having made his way to New York City with his weathered magical case by his side. Given that the case contains full habitats for endangered magical creatures in a very Doctor Who sort of way, we can assume that Scamander is in the Big Apple seeking out a fantastic beast. Once there, he learns that the U.S. wizarding community is extremely careful to hide from the "No-Maj" - which is what Muggles are called in the States during the 1920s. EW's synopsis also not so subtly hints that some of Scamander's creatures will escape from his case even as he tries to hide his wizarding nature from magiphobic Americans.
It's kind of an interesting twist, since (according to EW) WB's original plan was to simply make Fantastic Beasts a fake documentary about Scamander. J.K. Rowling herself came onboard to write a screenplay for the film instead, however, almost certainly making it more interesting and likely to pull Potterphiles out in droves to see it. Given the strength of his performance in The Theory of Everything, Redmayne will likely make a charming and complex protagonist, too.
Anticipation for Fantastic Beasts seems to be quite high at the moment. Not only is it another glimpse into Rowling's Wizarding World, it also gives us a look at characters who amounted to little more than name drops in the Harry Potter books/movies. Given that it's being written by Rowling, we can expect Fantastic Beasts to be a lore-rich exploration of the fantasy setting that Rowling created. We may even get a few glimpses into the past of characters or settings we already know and love (though Rowling has made it clear: the film will NOT be a prequel to the Harry Potter series).
It's hard to imagine many Potter faithful who aren't excited about Fantastic Beasts, though some may be disappointed to see a new movie in the series set so long before the events of the books. There will likely be some Easter eggs and callouts to events referenced in the main Potter series, of course, but again: this film is definitely more of a spinoff than prequel. On the plus side, it will be interesting to compare and contrast how the American wizarding community acts (and the American public reacts) as opposed to the UK-centric Potter series.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in U.S. theaters on November 18th, 2016.