Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a lifeline for fans of the Harry Potter movies, offering more offering more cinematic thrills set within the wizarding world. The cinematic universe seemingly came to an end in 2011, when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 completed the eight-strong film series and brought the franchise’s total box-office gross to $7.7bn.
So it was no small surprise when, in September 2013, the announcement came that J.K. Rowling herself would be writing the screenplay for a spin-off film set in the same universe, but set some 70 years before the HP series.
Taking its inspiration from the faux-textbook of the same name (also created by Rowling), Fantastic Beasts opens later this year.
According to producer David Heyman “Fantastic Beasts is very much in the spirit of the Potter books but it’s not filled with young children and their issues.”
Asked if this is a more adult take on the Harry Potter universe. “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘dark’ but, as with all of Jo [Rowling]’s work, it’s not soft. There is material in all of the books that has a truth about life. Here, there’s darkness within. But there are also these creatures, and an awful lot of humour and heart – which I think will appeal to young and old alike.”
And in terms of Rowling’s involvement, beyond the writing of the script, Heyman makes it clear that she’s been a pivotal part of the magic. “Jo was on set and has been an incredible support to us,” he says. “We’d run concepts by her, she’d give her thoughts and we’d adjust accordingly. She certainly was aware of all the lead casting choices before we finalised them.”
Directed by Potter veteran David Yates and starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Colin Farrell and Ezra Miller, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in UK and US cinemas on November 18, 2016.