Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them is one spinoff for a commercially-saturated, billion-dollar intellectual property, that grows more intriguing by the news update. First, the project was announced last year, with Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling set as the screenwriter; then came word that the Fantastic Beasts movie is envisioned as the beginning of a new trilogy; and today brings a report that Oscar-winnning filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón has entered negotiations to serve as director on the project.
Cuarón, of course, is no stranger to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Nearly a decade before he racked up critical accolades for his high-grossing, 3D envelope-pushing, space thriller Gravity, Cuarón directed the third installment in the Potter movie series (based on Rowling's global best-selling fantasy books), Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. Although Cuarón's movie is currently the lowest-grossing film set in the Potter-verse, it also earned the blockbuster franchise greater respect for its artistic merits - greater than what Chris Columbus' first two installments managed - and the goodwill it generated helped to reverse the series' downward trend at the box office, thereafter.
Now, according to Nikki Finke, Cuarón may be in "deep in talks" with Warner Bros. for him to direct Fantastic Beasts, which is currently slated to reach theaters by Fall 2016. The spinoff is reported to take place some 70 years before the events of the previous Harry Potter movies. It will presumably chronicle the (mis)adventures of Newt Scamander, as he travels the world in order to document the various "fantastical beasts" that he encounters along the way - in order to create the eponymous textbook, which ends up being used by many a Hogwarts student so many years later. (Or, if your name is Ron Weasley, not used.)
The working relationship between Warner Bros. and Cuarón is stronger than ever right now, coming off Gravity's multiple Oscar wins and worldwide box office gross of more than $716 million. Warners has all the greater motivation for wanting Fantastic Beasts to turn out well; not only because it could mean that the aforementioned trilogy plans will end up being realized, but also because the studio clearly intends to produce other films set in the Potter-verse in the future. Hence, turning to a reliable collaborator such as Cuarón to get this dance started on the right foot, makes a good deal of sense.
From a creativity perspective, of course, bringing Cuarón back sounds like a great idea. While everyone has their own personal favorite Harry Potter film, most would probably agree that Prisoner of Azkaban is not just one of the most solid chapters in the series - it's arguably the most thematically-rich, by satisfying as both a fun adventure in the Wizarding World and a meaningful fantasy/coming of age parable that does justice by the substance of Rowling's source material. And now that Cuarón is armed with a decade of experience with maintaing his personal style within the blockbuster, effects-heavy, template, who knows what impressive trick he'll manage to pull off next?
In short: if the talks between Warner Bros. and Cuarón - assuming they are, in fact, happening - results in a deal on Fantastic Beasts, then we'll be all the more excited to make the return trip to the cinematic section of the Wizarding World. Nothing is set in stone just yet (officially speaking, that is), but we'll be sure and keep you updated on the situation, as it develops.
Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them is slated to open in U.S. theaters on November 18th, 2016.
Source: Nikki Finke
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