Fantastic Beasts and Why to Find Them

Reading Time: 3 minutes

I came to J.K . Rowling’s Wizarding World through the films, specifically the second, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. My daughter was in first grade and we were invited to a special mother and daughter screening through the Girl Scouts. I was aware of the Harry Potter phenomenon, but we hadn’t read any of the books or seen the first film. In line for the screening, we were surrounded by little girls flicking wands and entertained by a man dressed as Arthur Weasley asking trivia questions from the second book. I nodded and clapped and cheered along with the other moms, pretending to know what the Floo Network is and why Dobby mattered. The secret reveal in the film’s climax was spoiled for me because “Arthur” assumed everyone in line had read the book—but I didn’t know who Voldemort was, so I didn’t even realize.

I came out of that screening a Harry Potter fan for life. I went home and immediately asked to borrow my brother’s copy of the first book and within a month I was fully caught up. I went to midnight releases for the rest of the films, all three of the remaining books, plus Harry Potter and the Cursed Child earlier this year. I joined multiple online communities for Harry Potter fans and threw myself into the fandom. I wrote fanfiction, made fanvids, drew fanart, participated in a wizard rock group (“Lord Voldemort’s Lonely Horcrux Band”). I cosplayed Fleur Delacour at EPCOT and then again at Universal Studios. This year my younger daughter turned eleven and I got her a Hogwarts acceptance letter. Just a few weeks ago, I discovered my Patronus at Pottermore—it’s a dragon!!!

anika as fleur in EPCOT, Paris
Anika dressed as Fleur Delacour in EPCOT; personal photos

And Thursday I was in the room—at least, digitally—when J.K. Rowling announced Fantastic Beasts and the Where to Find Them will be the first in a series of five films. Her news followed a question and answer session with the stars of the film–Colin Farrell and Jon Voight in Los Angeles, and Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, and Dan Fogel in London along with director David Yeats and producer David Heyman. You can watch the whole event here.

My favorite part is Waterston describing choosing her wand and learning how to use it, and the coordination required between Waterston and Sudol, who play sisters who practice their magic in tandem. The process sounds, well, magical. After the Q&A, we were given a sneak peek at the first ten minutes of the film and while I was intrigued before, I’m now plotting another midnight screening. The excitement is infectious–and the niffler is adorable!

newt scamander
Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander; Warner Brothers

I spoke informally with a representative of Warner Brothers at New York Comic Con who suggested the company doesn’t really know how the film will be received–the Harry Potter films are beloved, but does that extend to the whole of the Wizarding World?–but with Rowling at the helm, they appear poised to go all in. Harry Potter’s story has “ended” three times now–with the release of the final book, then the final movie, and then again with the play–and with this most recent announcement it appears the cinematic Wizarding World may never end. I understand why some may suffer from reboot fatigue, or worry there will never be new stories again, but I’m excited. These are new stories, just set in a familiar land. As with Rogue OneFantastic Beasts is set to tell a story about something we know happened, but don’t really know anything about. I love an expanding universe!

I’m going to see this film because I love the Wizarding World, but that’s just my first reason. Aesthetically, I adore 1920s New York.  The cast is utterly charming and while predominantly and somewhat egregiously, white, the President of Magic in the US is a woman of color (maybe one of the four other films is about her–hey, I can dream!). The Davids and Rowling hinted at the importance of Dumbledore and Grindelwald (maybe one of the other four films is about them–this seems much more likely, even if they are gay). Truly there are so many things that could fit into five films. So much magic in the world!

And the niffler is ADORABLE.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them premieres November 18, 2016. Watch the trailer below: