Harry Potter Spinoff Series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Planned as a Trilogy
When Warner Bros. made the announcement last year that J.K. Rowling was writing the screenplay for a Harry Potter spinoff movie called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, they pointedly said Rowling would write "the first film", indicating it would be a larger series.
We now have a better idea of what the full plan is, as the New York Times has revealed that the Fantastic Beasts series is currently planned as a trilogy, specifically stating "Three megamovies are planned." The information came in a Times profile of Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara, noting how one of his big successes in his short time in his position so far was convincing Rowling to expand the Potter universe into more films, something considered a very hard sell.
Rowling tells the Times, "When I say he made Fantastic Beasts happen, it isn’t P.R.-speak but the literal truth. We had one dinner, a follow-up telephone call, and then I got out the rough draft that I’d thought was going to be an interesting bit of memorabilia for my kids and started rewriting!”
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set 70 years before the events in Harry Potter, but is not considered a prequel per se, in that it's not really connected to the story of the Potter books and films. Instead, it will focus on Newt Scamander, an expert in magical creatures, who was the supposed author of the text book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which Rowling wrote as a Potter-related companion to raise money for the charity organization Comic Relief back in 2001.
When Rowling was interviewed by Emma Watson recently for Wonderland magazine, she explained how her actually writing the Fantastic Beasts film was a big surprise for Warner Bros. "Warner Bros. came to me ages ago and said they wanted to do something with Fantastic Beasts. I could see the potential in it. I knew something about Newt having written a little something for Comic Relief. I had imagined a little bit of back story for him... So when Warner Bros. came to me and said they wanted to make a film out of the book I had this simultaneous feeling of 'it has a lot of potential,' and another feeling of slight panic that 'I know some things about Newt and I don't want you to ruin that for me!' because I knew who he was. So then I went away and sort of dwelt on what I knew about Newt, not intending to write a script but just trying to collect my thoughts so that I could at least give them the backstory I'd imagined, so that their vision was true to what I knew.
"Then I really did have one of those moments that always make you phenomenally excited as a writer; but also that you know is going to end up being a ton of work. I thought, 'Oh my God, a whole plot's just descended on me!' But I wanted to do it as I was really excited about it. I wasn't really thinking about writing the script myself, I thought, you know, I'll give them this plot and then – fatally – I sat down and thought 'I just wonder what it would look like...' and wrote a rough draft in twelve days!"
Rowling adds, "It wasn't a great draft but it did show the shape of how it might look. So that is how it all started... I think they were kind of stunned. I didn't tell them I had written it in twelve days. I've never written a script. It truly wasn't that I thought I'd be good at it, I just wanted to get the outline of the story down, and that's obviously given me a lot to work with going forward."
Story specifics on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them are being kept under wraps, except for the fact that it begins in New York City. Coupled with the period setting, sometime around the 1930s, and it sounds like there will be a lot to set this series apart from Harry Potter, even as it expands the universe of that series.