Good news, muggles! It looks like Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has finally found a fantastic star in muggle-born Eddie Redmayne. Whether or not a summoning charm was used to do so, however, remains to be seen As previously reported, the Oscar-winner was being considered by director David Yates for the lead role in the upcoming spinoff, but an offer had yet to be made.
Presumably, Redmayne wanted to see a completed script before committing to anything - and now that the script has been delivered, reports suggest that the actor is circling the role, with the final pieces being put into place.
According to Variety, Warner Bros. has officially offered Redmayne the lead role of famed writer and 'magiczoologist' Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts. Aside from Scamander, there are four other main roles - two American girls and two American boys - the studio is still in the process of casting.
Based on the Hogwarts textbook of the same name - which Scamander 'wrote' - the film chronicles his various adventures in New York's secret community of witches and wizards seventy years before Harry Potter's own story. As explained by J.K. Rowling, the film shouldn't be viewed as either a prequeal or sequel to the existing film franchise, but "an extension of the wizarding world." Considering just how big that world is, exploring it further is certainly an exciting and thrilling notion (to fans and the studio alike).
In one sense, Warner Bros. may be aiming to create yet another shared cinematic universe with its second wildly popular and lucrative franchise property, especially considering the reported plans to adapt the source material into a trilogy of 'megafilms' (previously seen with Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy). However, producer David Heyman has said - despite sequel plans - that the film is being developed and viewed as a standalone project.
Ultimately, with Rowling behind the pen and Redmayne in front of the camera - both having proven their talents - fans can take solace in the fact that each of the films will most certainly serve as faithful, worthwhile installments of the world they know, adding a bit of the unexpected. Nostalgia is only entertaining for so long, and Rowling has promised a brand new adventure that will deepen both the Harry Potter mythos and fans' love for the world.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in U.S. theaters on November 18, 2016. Warner Bros. has already staked out November 16, 2018 and November 20, 2020 as release dates for the potential sequels.