Fantastic Beats and Where to Find Them is finally in theaters and the challenge for Warner Bros, from the very beginning, has been to figure out how to easily communicate that it has to do with J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter universe. The film is unique in that it is related to the Harry Potter films, since it happens in the same universe, but it’s not a traditional sequel or prequel because it doesn’t directly involve Harry and his friends.
NOTE: There are spoilers for the film below.
Fantastic Beasts Takes Place 70 Years Before Harry Potter
Fantastic Beasts takes place 70 years before the action in the eight Harry Potter films, therefore you aren’t going to see Daniel Radcliffe and that cast in this movie. Instead, you will find Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) as Newt Scamander, a British wizard who travels to New York in 1926 on a stop during a trip to see more magical beasts.
While there, his briefcase full of monsters is accidentally opened and the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) has to act. He also meets his future wife, Porpentina “Tina” Goldstein (Katherine Waterston, Inherent Vice) and her sister, Queenie (Alison Sudol). Colin Farrell also stars in the film as Auror Percival Graves, Director of Magical Security for MACUSA.
The film does have several connections to Harry Potter, aside from taking place in the same world. In the wizarding world Rowling created, Scamander did write a book called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which was used as a textbook at Hogwarts. Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard mentioned in the Harry Potter series as a friend of Albus Dumbledore’s who became the most dangerous wizard ever, second only to Voldemort, plays a part in the new Fantastic Beasts movies.
In addition to the film coming out officially on November 18, Rowling is releasing her screenplay in book form.
Johnny Depp Does Have a Role in the Film
By the way, Grindelwald is played by Johnny Depp. He makes a brief appearance at the end of Fantastic Beasts and Warner Bros. managed to keep his role in the film under wraps until days before its release.
“He’s obviously a cameo in this film but going forward will obviously be more important,” Rowling, who wrote the script, told People Magazine of Depp’s role. “Watching Johnny create a character is really quite remarkable, it’s fascinating. It’s great as a writer to work with people like that.”
Fantastic Beasts Is the First of a Five-Movie Series
When Fantastic Beasts was first announced, Rowling and Warner Bros. said it was the first of three movies. However, Rowling has decided to up the ante and said there will be four move movies after this. David Yates, who already directed the last four Potter movies and helmed Fantastic Beasts, told the Hollywood Reporter that he wants to direct all five Newt Scamander films.
“I love making films, and I’ve got a great team, all of whom are like family. I only look at it movie-to-movie,” he said.
Yates is already in pre-production for the next film and sets are being built in Paris and Watford, England.
“I’m never complacent — I’m always feeling like I gotta do my best work, and I’m always pretty hard on myself,” Rowling told THR. “We’ve set ourselves an ambitious story to tell in five movies, but it’s going to be challenging and exciting — all the things I like.”
Fantastic Beasts 2 will hit theaters on November 16, 2018.