Written By: Julia Siegel
Witches and wizards around the world gathered at select IMAX movie theaters on Thursday, October 13 to get a special look at the new film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. There’s no better way to celebrate the return of the Wizarding World to the big screen than throwing a huge fan event. The screening of the first ten minutes of the film was preempted by a fan Q&A live from London with cast members Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, director David Yates, and producer David Heyman and from Los Angeles with cast members Colin Farrell and Jon Voight. Through the power of Skype, the world was connected to hear what the new story is all about.
The biggest news of the panel came from a special guest appearance by J.K. Rowling. She told the audiences that she has already completed the second script and that it’s amazing. She revealed that she enjoyed screenwriting so much that she has written the plotline of the series and is planning on making five Fantastic Beasts films. The tales of Newt Scamander was supposed to be a trilogy, so this was shocking news to every fan. With Rowling writing all the films, the stories will be authentic, new, and an exploration of a character fans have always wanted to know more about.
In order to avoid spoilers, the cast, Yates, Heyman, and Rowling didn’t give many specifics on Fantastic Beasts. Instead, they discussed returning to the Wizarding World and the pressure to get it right. Redmayne said that he felt an enormous pressure to bring Newt to life. He has been a big fan of the Harry Potter franchise and said that he too grew up watching the films. He is incredibly happy to be a part of something so special and knows that the Fantastic Beasts series will be great. Redmayne described the detail of the set as “intoxicating….When I arrived on set, I remember seeing a newspaper stand, which was miles down the street; it was never going to be in shot. I was walking past it during a break in between takes and I saw these newspapers, and I started reading the articles, and not just the front cover, but every single page had an intricate story entirely related to that day and date and what was going on in the magical world.”
Besides the detail on set, everyone enjoyed the days where Rowling would show up. Redmayne said he was like a seven year old child on set when she was around. Rowling admitted to telling the cast small spoilers about the next film while on set and enjoyed teasing them. She described being back on set as “…this is like old times. This is like traveling back in time. It’s amazing!”
Yates offered the fans one hint at where the series will be going, “We next see Newt in another big, capital city, and it’s not going to be New York. It’s somewhere else entirely.” He was also asked by a fan if any familiar characters will be making any appearances in Fantastic Beasts. In a few words, Yates exclaimed that Dumbledore will be mentioned and evil wizard Grindelwald will have a role going forward. There is a good possibility that he was inferring that Grindelwald will be Fantastic Beast’s Voldemort. It would also not be surprising if Dumbledore makes an appearance down the road. The big questions are where will the franchise take us over the course of five films? Will Fantastic Beasts be exploring the other Wizarding World schools? Could Newt and co. stop at Hogwarts along the way? These are questions that more than likely won’t be answered for a while, but it’s fun to speculate what will happen.
Another interesting point from the Q&A session was that all the actors are quite similar to their on-screen counterparts. Waterston and Sudol also told the audiences about the difficulty of using a wand. They both admitted that wands are tricky to figure out at first because they had to get the grip and motions just right. After a few wand rehearsals, they were set to go. They described the cooking screen shown in the trailers as a well-choreographed dance. Everyone had to know every motion and where each flying object would be added in post-production. Waterston also discussed how she felt invited more into the Wizarding World by having input on her wand design. She was able to see pictures of potential wands and even held two models to decide what would be the best for her character Tina. She said that this hand-on approach gave her a piece of authorship of the film that she calls “rare for things of this scale.”
Following the Q&A, the first ten minutes of the film were screened. The nostalgic John Williams’ Harry Potter theme opens the film and morphs into James Newton Howard’s Fantastic Beasts theme. I won’t give away the details, but the openings scenes show Newt arriving in New York City and a “dark wind with white eyes” ravaging parts of the city. The unknown “beast” is terrifying New Yorkers and concerning wizards. The beginning is very magical and definitely kicks off a new era immediately. It will be interesting to see how the story unfolds. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them hits theaters on November 18. Tickets are on sale now.