By turning tonight”s MTV Movie Awards into a sneak peek at all things Warner Bros., the studio”s invited everyone to weigh in on the biggest items they”ve got coming for the rest of the year, and while Suicide Squad is definitely important to them, it”s not as important as Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.
I greatly admire JK Rowling as a writer, and not just for her work on Harry Potter. I think her Robert Galbraith novels have been terrific entertainment, and I really liked The Casual Vacancy, which I thought demonstrated a savage wit that has always been quietly present in her work but rarely unleashed to its full potential. Rowling is a ferociously smart writer from a business viewpoint, and this new venture into the “Wizarding World,” which seems to have become the catch-all description for the universe she”s building, is a very clever way of extending things without damaging any of the integrity of what she”s already done.
There are a lot of things she”s done to carefully distance this from Harry and his story. It”s set in America. It”s set during the ’20s. It deals with someone who was expelled from Hogwarts, allowing us to see other corners of the world of magic. There are so many cynical versions of this that would have been possible, and it speaks volumes that Rowling herself wrote the script. Instead of just handing this off to the studio and taking checks to let them do whatever they want, she took on the challenge herself, and if this works, she”ll have created an entirely new series that they can explore in so many different ways.
What the title suggests is a lovely globetrotting adventure series that can go anywhere and do anything. I have no idea if that”s what they”re going to make, but there is a whole world of possibilities implied by Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. It”s also clear from watching the way fandom interacts with Rowling and Pottermore, the site where she releases new arcana having to do with Potter, that people want to know more details of the world she created. They crave this stuff. And why not? An entire generation grew up learning to read from the Harry Potter books, absorbing the movies, and all you have to do is look at the explosion of energy that happens any time there”s anything new related to that world to realize that this is not just about marketing. There is genuine hunger here, and as long as Rowling and Warner treat this audience with respect, I believe that audience will continue to devour whatever they put out.
But, yes… it needs to be good. And so far, it looks good. It”s brilliant of all involved to make sure David Yates was the director, because as much as anyone else, he”s responsible for the overall voice and tone of the film series. Once he came onboard, he began to exhibit a strong sense of authorship on the films, and he inherited a cast that was getting better from film to film. Here, he gets to start from scratch with the cast, and I”m excited by a lot of his choices. Katherine Waterson was remarkable in Inherent Vice, and I”m curious to see her work here. Eddie Redmayne feels like he should have already been in a Harry Potter film, and he seems to have emerged from Rowling”s pen fully realized. This trailer gives us a much better sense of the feel of the film, and I”m certainly curious to see how it all plays out.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them is in theaters November 18, 2016.