Eight years have passed since the final Harry Potter book hit shop shelves. Four since Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 premiered in cinemas. We are just about coming to terms with the end of Harry Potter’s story, so it’s high time we immersed ourselves in J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world once again.
Harry Potter spin-off film Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them – based on the book of the same name – was given the green light in September 2013, and almost three years later the project is galloping towards cinema screens like a hungry Hippogriff.
Here’s everything we know so far…
It’s set in 1920s New York
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in 1926; Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures.
Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident… were it not for a No-Maj named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.
After months of rumours, whispers and patiently crossed fingers, the 33-year-old British actor, who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything, was officially announced as the lead in Rowling’s latest big screen venture. Redmayne plays Newt Scamander, the magizoologist and author of the textbook the film is set around.
“Eddie is a fearless actor, brimming with invention, wit and humanity,” said Fantastic Beasts director David Yates. “I couldn’t be more excited about the prospect of working with him as we start this new adventure in JK Rowling’s wonderful world, and I know she feels the same way.”
Other names that had been bandied around included In The Flesh’s Luke Newberry and former Doctor Who Time Lord Matt Smith. We’d have been pretty overjoyed with any of those options, but it’s fair to say we’re more than a little excited to welcome Redmayne to Harry Potter’s wizarding world.
The first footage from the film doesn’t reveal much, but at least it’s a chance to see Eddie Redmayne works his magic.
Katherine Waterston is Tina, Alison Sudol is Queenie and Dan Fogler is Jacob
Every good wizard needs a pack of pals and much like the magical trio from Harry Potter, Newt’s just one of a fab four.
Waterston will be Newt’s love interest Tina – full name Porpentina Goldstein. She’s a young witch who works for the Magical Congress of the United States (that’s their Ministry of Magic) and has been demoted below her abilities and ambitions because she stood up for the wrong person.
Singer songwriter Alison Sudol will play her younger sister, Queenie. She’s a Legilimens, which means she has the ability to extract feelings and memories from someone’s mind.
And Dan Fogler is No-Maj baker Jacob, who is just post-break up when the film begins.
Irish actor Farrell Colin Farrell plays a powerful MACUSA Auror named Graves, who is the right-hand man of the US wizarding community’s leader.
The cast is rather vast
Humans fans will be able to spot Gemma Chan rubbing shoulders with the like of Ezra Miller (Trainwreck) as Credence; two-time Oscar nominee Samantha Morton (In America, Sweet and Lowdown) as Mary Lou; Oscar winner Jon Voight as Henry Shaw, Sr.; Ron Perlman (the “Hellboy” films) as Gnarlack; Carmen Ejogo (Selma) as Seraphina; Jenn Murray (Brooklyn) as Chastity; and young newcomer Faith Wood-Blagrove as Modesty.
Warner Bros found their Modesty after an open casting-call in London in July 2015. According to Newsround, 10-year-old Faith Wood-Blagrove will star as the “haunted young girl”, who is said to have “an inner strength and stillness” as well as “an ability to see deep into people and understand them”…
The big screen adaptation of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts is going to be made into not one, not two, but THREE “megamovies”. Warner Bros CEO Kevin Tsujihara confirmed as much last year when speaking to The New York Times. Fantastic news, no?
The screenplay has been written by J.K. Rowling
This is Rowling’s first foray into the world of screenwriting. The closest she got last time was serving as a producer on the seventh and eighth films but for Fantastic Beasts she’s penned all the cinematic action herself. After discussing options for a spin-off with Warner Bros, “an idea took shape that I couldn’t dislodge,” said Rowling when the project was first announced. “That is how I ended up pitching my own idea for a film to Warner Bros.
“I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about and this is it.”
It’s neither a prequel nor a sequel to Harry Potter
Rowling has revealed that the film series “will be set in the worldwide community of witches and wizards” and that “the laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books”. But Potter fans will be waiting a while for a glimpse of their favourite wizard. The author has said that the films will “neither [be] a prequel nor a sequel to the Harry Potter series.” Instead, they are set in New York City around 70 years before Harry Potter’s story begins.
So it won’t star any familiar wizards
It might be set in the wizarding world we know and love, but as Fantastic Beasts predates Harry Potter himself, you won’t be seeing any returning stars. We did live in hope that there was a magical loop hole initially, but Daniel Radcliffe has since ruled that out, saying: “I wouldn’t be involved, and I guess none of the others will be.”
Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them 1, 2 and 3 will hit cinema screens in 2016, 2018 and 2020, respectively. The first film will be out on 18th November 2016. That’s next year. Dates in diaries, people.
It wouldn’t be a Harry Potter spin-off if it wasn’t filmed right here in the UK, would it? Newt’s tale is being brought to life at Warner Bros. Leavesden studios where all eight of the Harry Potter movies were also made. David Yates, who directed the final four HP films, is back at the helm too, as is producer David Heyman.
The studios (handily where the Harry Potter Studio Tour also resides) are pretty close to Watford Junction and just 20 minutes from central London. The perfect place to try and catch a glimpse. To Leavesden!
Oh and Liverpool is doubling as New York, so be sure to keep an eye out for any Scouse wizards floating about.