It sure is a great time to be a fan of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Less than a month after a Harry Potter stage play was announced, more information surrounding the tightly veiled Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has surfaced. But before we dive in, here’s a quick refresher.
In September of 2013, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling announced a new partnership with Warner Bros. to adapt her 2009 standalone paperback Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them into a movie. Fantastic Beasts, a text book that serves as an extensive introduction to the magical beasts that exist in the magical, non-Muggle world, is actually mentioned in the first Potter novel, The Sorcerer’s Stone; it’s a required reading for first-year students. The text is written by famed magizoologist Newt Scamander. A magizoologist, mind you, is a person who studies magical creatures. In her surprise announcement, Rowling shared, “The laws and customs of the hidden magical society will be familiar to anyone who has read the Harry Potter books or seen the films, but Newt’s story will start in New York, seventy years before Harry’s gets underway.”
Since then, Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) has been cast to star in Fantastic Beasts as Newt Scamander, and it’s been confirmed that Rowling will make her screenwriting debut here and David Yates (director of the final four Potter films) is back at the helm.
Entertainment Weekly recently published pictures from the set and shared some non-spoilery plot points. Here’s what we know so far:
Eccentric magizoologist Newt Scamander comes to New York (for a reason [EW] won’t disclose) with his trusty weathered case. This case is one of those way-way-way-bigger-on-the-inside magical devices, and within are expansive habitats for a collection of rare and endangered magical creatures from Newt’s travels around globe. He discovers the American wizarding community is fearfully hiding from Muggles (who are called “No-Maj” in the States [pronounced “no madge,” as in “no magic”]) and the threat of public exposure is an even graver concern than in the UK (remember the Salem witch trials?). Fantastic Beasts is the story of what happens when this uniquely skilled English wizard travels to wiz-phobic America and a variety of his creatures, some quite dangerous … get out of their case.
Catch your first glimpse of Redmayne as Scamander in EW‘s cover photo above. The mag reveals that he’s posing here in the “art deco-influenced Magical Congress of the United States of America (or MACUSA), which is the American version of the Ministry of Magic that’s housed inside the Woolworth Building in the film.”
You’ll find even more photos in the gallery below. Featured alongside Redmayne are more new, original characters including Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (played by Katherine Waterston), Queenie Goldstein (Alison Sudol), and Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler).
Despite the film taking place in 1926 New York City, some 70 years before Harry realizes his potential across the pond at Hogwarts, I am beyond confident that Rowling and Redmayne will deliver an exhilaratingly fun new adventure for wizarding world fans new and old.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is due out November 2016. Don’t be surprised if we get a trilogy out of this.