Fantastic Movies and Where to Find Them

Fantastic_beasts-by Maddy Batt- Merlin’s pants! As many of Winsor’s more enlightened Muggles already know, J.K. Rowling has recently announced a new film–expected to be the first in a series–inspired by the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Though perhaps this revelation is a relatively minor one for the uninitiated, when I heard the news, my heart soared like a Firebolt after a Snitch.

The film will be based on a Hogwarts textbook, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, which is already available for purchase in print form. Set in New York 70 years before Harry’s journey begins, the story will likely follow magizoologist Newt Scamander as he chronicles his worldwide search for fabulous creatures. The “About the Author” section of Fantastic Beasts offers a rich source of conjecture about the plot.  Will we meet Newt’s wife, Porpentina? See his childhood days spent “dismembering Horklumps”? For now, we know little.

Many fans, however, are skeptical. Will the relocation to America feel too different? More importantly, is the film just a half-baked extension of a multi-billion dollar franchise? Due to Harry’s enormous following, nearly any Potter-related commercial venture is guaranteed to rake in cash. The film’s assured monetary success may compromise its quality. Moreover, the original series itself could be in danger: it is incredible the way it is, and continuing to add to it unnecessarily could detract from its genius.

Buckbeak1Though I admit that I am significantly biased in Rowling’s favor, I must strongly disagree on this count. J.K. Rowling is not one to stretch her franchise beyond its capacity; in fact, she often seeks to distance herself from the wizarding world altogether, as with the crime novel she recently published under a pseudonym. Moreover, she is hardly fabricating brand new material for the express purpose of commercial gain; in her announcement of the film, she stated that she “already knew a lot about Newt” when she began the project. Her knowledge of the world that she created is extensive, and not all of it was used in the series. The website Pottermore was established based on this premise, as a way for avid Potterheads to access parts of the story that Rowling could not fit into the books. In this sense the film will build upon Pottermore’s goal by using a new narrative to explore the already existing but largely unknown parts of the Potter universe.

Ultimately, I trust J.K. Rowling not to devalue her beloved books with unnecessary, money-grabbing post-scripts. As she declared in a statement about the new film, “I always said that I would only revisit the wizarding world if I had an idea that I was really excited about, and this is it.”