We Saw the First 10 Minutes of ‘Fantastic Beasts,’ A Dark Mix of the Familiar and the New
Thursday brought some big news for Harry Potter fans, namely that a five new movies are on the way. During a Global Fan Event for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, J.K. Rowling announced that the Harry Potter prequel spinoff will be followed by four sequels, and that she’s already completed the script for the second film. The event featured a live-streamed panel with the movie’s cast, then afterwards showed the audience an exclusive sneak peek of the new movie.
Fantastic Beasts follows the story of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist who arrives in New York with a suitcase full of magical creatures. Set in 1926, the film will explore America’s magical culture while tying in the larger history of Rowling’s wizarding world. I got to see the first 10 minutes of Fantastic Beasts, which didn’t reveal a ton, but gave a glimpse at the David Yates movie. Read on for my spoiler-filled footage description, plus some details and theories for the next four Fantastic Beasts movies.
Again, major spoilers follow. You’ve been warned!
In classic Harry Potter fashion, the film opens on the WB logo then reveals the shiny Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them title as the movie’s theme music plays. From there things start to feel familiar. The camera cruises past the title into a foggy sky, then dives down onto a misty dark manor, similar to the opening of The Deathly Hallows Part 1. We see a close-up of a man’s head with bleached blond hair. (Hypeable has confirmed this is indeed Grindelwald.) We see five wizards approaching the house with wands at the ready when a huge white blast blows them backwards. Newspapers fill the screen reporting on the rising threats in response of Grindelwald’s attacks. Headlines reveal security has been tightened at Hogwarts, a ban on “beast ownership,” the “anti-Wizard” movement on the rise, and that Grindelwald has gone missing.
We then jump through a photo of the Statue of Liberty to meet Newt Scamander arriving at Ellis Island. He nervously whispers to the creatures hiding inside of his suitcase then, as shown in the trailers, flips the “Muggles” switch on when an immigration officer looks inside. From there we jump to the ruins of an apartment building shown in the Comic-Con trailer. Colin Farrell’s Percival Graves arrives when the walls begin rumbling and something breaks through the bricks. We don’t see the creature, but Yates switches to P.O.V. shots to show it racing down the street destroying everything in its path. It’s a pretty fun sequence and looks cool, albeit super short.
Then Newt walks by a demonstration in front of a bank where we meet the rest of the main characters. Samantha Morton’s Mary Lou Barebone, the leader of the anti-wizard New Salem Philanthropic Society (N.S.P.S.), is shouting about the witches that lurk in secret around them. Katherine Waterston’s Tina Goldstein watches the rally and eats a hot dog – just in case you forgot this movie takes place in New York, nod nod, wink wink.
Ezra Miller’s Credence Barebone, sporting a bowl cut and looking extra mopey, passes out flyers to the crowd. Dan Fogler’s Jacob Kowalski weaves through the group of people and mistakes Newt’s suitcase for his own. When a man passing by flips a quarter in the air (in an overly stylish slow-mo sequence), a creature inside Newt’s suitcase crawls out. Just as Morton’s Mary Lou calls attention to Newt in the crowd, Newt spots the creature, Niffler, who Harry Potter fans will remember from The Goblet of Fire, snatching a panhandler’s hat full of coins. (Nifflers love shiny, gold things.) Newt rushes up the steps towards the creature and, thats it!
The roughly 10 minutes of footage was followed by a sizzle reel for the movie. It’s hard to judge much based on the brief footage alone, but the movie certainly wastes no time setting up the plot and introducing its characters. The most exciting part was no doubt the misty, dark opening at (presumably) Grindelwald’s European mansion. Visually and tonally, the opening scene feels like a callback to the darker moments of the Harry Potter films. It echoed the looming danger of the Godric’s Hollow sequence and the menacing terror of the Death Eaters meeting at Malfoy Manor. Yates directed the darkest films in the Harry Potter franchise, and by that opening alone I can tell he’s a great fit to tell this story. Once the film arrived in New York though, that tingling sense of excitement was gone. That might just be because this is a new world we haven’t seen yet, with new characters we don’t know. And as charming as Redmayne can be, I already felt annoyed by his sheepish Newt. (Can this guy really carry five movies?)
What I’m most excited about is how Fantastic Beasts will explain the magical history the Harry Potter films and books have long alluded to. Yates revealed during the Global Fan Event that both Dumbledore and Grindelwald will be featured in the first film. “We mention Dumbledore in this movie and he features a bit between Colin [Farrell] and Eddie [Redmayne],” he said. Yates added that while Grindelwald is mostly in the background of Fantastic Beasts, the character will “become a much more prominent part of the stories moving forward.” Now this I like.
With four movies on the way, and a heck of a lot of time between 1926 and the start of The Sorcerer’s Stone, could future sequels could show us young Grindelwald and Dumbledore? For those who don’t remember, Grindelwald and Dumbledore were good friends and planned to find the Deathly Hallows – the Elder Wand, the Invisibility Cloak, and the Resurrection Stone – before they had a falling out and Grindelwald became one of the world’s most evil wizards. The two had a historic three hour duel in 1945, resulting in Grindelwald’s capture, and what a sight it would be for the future films to show us how the battle went down.
Plus, if the movies do include both characters it’d be a great opportunity for Rowling to dive deeper into Dumbledore’s sexuality, since she revealed he was in love with Grindelwald. Two dueling wizards confronted with their love and their opposing desires for good and evil – yes, make it happen! Another possibility for the next four movies is how they could involve Farrell’s character. It’s curious that the one shot of Grindelwald in the opening looks strikingly similar to Percival Graves’ hair style, only blonde.
Moviepilot has a theory that Graves is actually Grindelwald and posing as an Auror. It’s even more interesting if you consider Farrell’s new poster for the movie, which includes the Deathly Hallows symbol. Grindelwald would be about 44 years old at the time of Fantastic Beasts, so Farrell’s casting wouldn’t be too off for the role. Either way, there’s no doubt Graves has a connection to the Hallows that the films could continue to uncover. Focusing on origin stories of characters we already know, and perhaps linking new characters to old histories might be the smartest direction for the new movies to go in. Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them opens November 18.