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What to expect from Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Updated on September 19, 2013

“It all started when Warner Bros. came to me with the suggestion of turning ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ into a film. I thought it was a fun idea." - JK Rowling on the new movie

JK Rowling will be debuting as a screen writer with a new Harry Potter derived Warner Brothers flick based on one of the wizard’s schoolbooks. The idea came from two books JK Rowling released years ago that are meant to be books students at Hogwarts would use in their lectures. The books, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them and Quidditch Through The Ages, were originally published to raise money for Comic Relief – the sales raised £17 million ($27 million).

Rowling has said that the movie itself, that will start in New York, will be based on the ‘author’ of the books Newt Scamander’s discoveries of fantastic magical beasts. She has assured worried and hesitant Harry Potter fans that there will be no mention of Harry or any of the series’ characters – in fact it will be set forty years before any of the books even happened.

However the introduction of the published book is written by Albus Dumbledore who, as we all know, is as old as magic itself – so maybe we will see a glimpse of him. As a Harry Potter fan I know Dumbledore has a hand in almost every possible magical discovery so it wouldn’t surprise me to see him onscreen with whoever gets casted as Scamander.

Most Potterheads know that JK Rowling is extremely thorough when creating a character so Newt Scamander’s life had already been mapped out in her brain. So what do we know about him? According to a Chocolate Frog card, at the time Harry bought his book Scamander was still alive studying slugs in the Brazilian rainforest and he was born in 1897.

He was the one who came up with the Werewolf Register (relevant to the Harry Potter books because of Remus Lupin who is a registered, under control – well, most of the time – werewolf) in 1947. He also helped ban Experimental Breeding in 1965 and awarded the Order of Merlin, Second Class, in 1979 for being a master in magizoology.

However he retires in 2001, relocating to Dorset where he lives with his wife Porpetina and their pet Kneazle (I, for one, hope Kneazles is part of the new movie). JK Rowling has said Scamander is a character she adores – she married his grandson Rolf to Luna Lovegood. So it’s obvious that she loves him enough to extend his life story and that he had at least one child with Porpetina.

"Maybe we can expect a journey around the world where we will see majestic and sometimes terrifying creatures."

But what should we expect from the movie? I suspect we will go on a journey with Scamander to discover the magical beasts around the world. I don’t know how many of these are actually in New York (it does bring Men in Black to mind somehow) but it seems like he will travel around. The book has magical creatures from all over the world, from Greece to Scotland to Ukraine to Brazil.

So maybe we can expect a journey around the world where we will see majestic and sometimes terrifying (many of the creatures in the book are extremely dangerous, sometimes fatal) creatures. We have seen some magical creatures being portrayed in the movies; dragons, acromantulas, hypogriffs, a basilisk, a phoenix, etc. And they have been very well made, surprisingly so. Technology and computer effects have helped a lot, but the Fawkes the phoenix was actually a real puppet and the bigger acromantula was also built as opposed to computer generated.

I think this might be something to look forward, it will be a movie full of magical beasts, creatively made by artists who know what they are doing.

It was only when I visited the Harry Potter Studios in London that I realized how many artists had taken part in the creation of the wizarding world. There was a breath taking model of Hogwarts and numerous drawing of Dobby, death eaters – you name it. They drew it and made mock ups so they knew exactly what they were aiming at and everything was done to the smallest detail.

"By my calculations, if the movie is set 40 years before Harry Potter was born, it will be set in the 1940s. If Scamander was born in 1897 this means he would be in his early forties."

Now, I don’t know if JK Rowling will be a good screen writer because she has only written with other people to adjust Harry Potter scripts, but she can write a good story. I am now reading The Cuckoo’s Calling and it’s really good, I haven’t been into a book like this in a while. And The Casual Vacancy was an extremely clever, carefully woven book, with deep and complex characters. I don’t know how that will play out onscreen – and it also depends on the casting, of course – but it could be very good.

On the subject of casting: Scamander’s age in the movie hasn’t been revealed at all, so I am really not sure who could play him. Will it be a young Scamander? Surely not. By my calculations, if the movie is set 40 years before Harry Potter was born, it will be set in the 1940s. If Scamander was born in 1897 this means he would be in his early forties.

This is just speculation. Rowling could mean that the movie will start 40 years before Voldemort existed. In this case Scamander would be about 30 years old. So the actor they will cast will be 30 to 40 years old and we won’t be watching the story of a young man, but an adult scientist.

Personally I have mixed feelings about the production of this movie. The Harry Potter world is so perfect that I am afraid it will be ruined by this spin off. On the other hand I am having very serious magic withdrawals since the last movie was released and no matter how many times I watch the movies or read the books I can’t deny it would be great to see something completely new from that universe we Potterheads love so much.

What's up with JK's latest work?

If you don't know, JK Rowling has published two books that are in no way related to Harry Potter, The Casual Vacancy and The Cuckoo's Calling (Under the name Robert Galbraith). I strongly recommend that you read them both because they're very well written and intriguing.

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