Last year’s news that the Harry Potter franchise isn’t over, not really, should have been music to the ears (perhaps played by The Weird Sisters?) to each and ever Potter fan on the planet. In September, word slipped out that author J.K. Rowling was hitting the page again to develop her Potter supplement “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” into a new, kinda-prequel to the Potter world we all love that would focus on magizoologist and fictitious author Newt Scamander. Earlier this year, that news was majorly beefed up by the news that Warner Bros. was looking to turn that single, forty-two page book into a trilogy of “megamovies” that zip the Potter-verse seventy years back in time to center on the escapades of the young Scamander in New York City.
The latest news? Per Nikki Finke’s Twitter account (really?), director Alfonso Cuaron is in “deep talks” (ouch) to helm at least the first film in the new trilogy. Cuaron is, of course, no stranger to the Potter world — he previously helmed Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. As Finke tells it, that’s a “perfect pick,” and it really just might be, so why does it seem so hard to muster up any excitement for this new trilogy?
Just because we’re returning to the world of Harry Potter — or, you know, the world that Harry Potter will eventually be born into — doesn’t mean that only magic will be there, or that we even need it. It’s okay, you can still be a hardcore Harry Potter fan and not be interested in seeing Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them on the big screen. How do I know? Because that’s exactly how I feel.
Since Rowling wrapped up the Potter book series in 2007 and Warner Bros. put its massively successful film franchise to bed in 2011, everyone has been a little reticent to say goodbye to Harry, Ron, Hermione and the world they inhabited (and that Rowling so deftly created). That’s totally understandable, and the fact that that same attitude has spawned a theme park (and soon, two theme parks), chatter about “new scenes” involving the series’ trio of stars appearing at said theme park, interest in this Fantastic Beasts movie trilogy, the Pottermore website and even actual gossip about who Hermione should have ended up with (it’s Ron, you guys, sorry) is also understandable. But it’s okay to say goodbye.
And that also doesn’t mean that you, as a Harry Potter fan, need to be automatically primed to consume an entirely new trilogy of material.
“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” was actually published right in the middle of Pottermania, as it hit shelves early in 2001 (for reference, that means it arrived after Rowling had published the first four books). The book was released alongside another Potter supplement, “Quidditch Through the Ages,” which, as far as we know, is not getting the movie treatment. (In 2008, Rowling also published “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” which we expect to be adapted any day now.)
At just forty-two pages, the source material for the Fantastic Beasts movie is pretty slim, though its expected trilogy of films will be penned by Rowling herself (totally a good thing) and there are plenty of other mentions of Scamander throughout the series proper to lace into the features. We might even get to see a young Dumbledore, who was pals with Scamander in his younger years! This sounds fun, but it also sounds remarkably nonessential.
Still, though, not much about this appeals to even the most dedicated of Potter fans (like me). Perhaps reading up on the beasties (fantastic and otherwise) was exciting and appealing for book readers who were desperate to learn more about the animals they’d so far only read about (the first Harry Potter film hit theaters late in 2001, so the “Beasts” book was a proper visual supplement before there was the major visual supplement that is an actual film). It’s nice to read about animals, but it’s better to see them — but we already have eight films filled with visual animals.
Granted, the Fantastic Beasts film series is still in its early stages and perhaps when they’re finally set to hit the big screen (probably whole years from now), my tune will have changed. For now, however, the Potter universe is closed for me, and that’s how I like it.