Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is an a 2016 British fantasy action drama film directed by David Yates and written by J. K. Rowling (in her screenwriting debut), based on Rowling's book of the same name. It stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Ron Perlman and Jon Voight.
A spin-off of the Harry Potter film series, the film will be the first installment of a series of five films. It is intended to be the ninth film instalment (and the tenth overall instalment, including the two-part stage play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) in J.K. Rowling's Wizarding World, a new entertainment brand and cinematic universe founded by Rowling and acquired by Warner Bros., showcasing different genres, and depicting different cultures, time periods, political conflicts, and wars in various Wizarding societies around the globe. Principal photography commenced on 17 August 2015, at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is scheduled to be released worldwide on November 18, 2016 in the 3D, IMAX 4K Laser and other large format theatres.
There are growing dangers in the wizarding world of 1926 New York. Something mysterious is leaving a path of destruction in the streets, threatening to expose the wizarding community to the Second Salemers, a fanatical faction of No-Majs (American for Muggles) bent on eradicating them. And the powerful, dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald, after wreaking havoc in Europe, has slipped away… and is now nowhere to be found.
Unaware of the rising tensions, Newt Scamander arrives in the city nearing the end of a global excursion to research and rescue magical creatures, some of which are safeguarded in the hidden pocket-dimensions of his deceptively nondescript leather case. But potential disaster strikes when unsuspecting No-Maj Jacob Kowalski inadvertently lets some of Newt’s beasts loose in a city already on edge—a serious breach of the Statute of Secrecy that former Auror Tina Goldstein jumps on, seeing her chance to regain her post. However, things take an ominous turn when Percival Graves, the enigmatic Director of Magical Security at MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), casts his suspicions on both Newt… and Tina.
Now allied, Newt and Tina, together with Tina’s sister, Queenie, and their new No-Maj friend, Jacob, form a band of unlikely heroes, who must recover Newt’s missing beasts before they come to harm. But the stakes are higher than these four outsiders—now branded fugitives—ever imagined, as their mission puts them on a collision course with dark forces that could push the Wizarding and No-Maj worlds to the brink of war.
In 1926, Newt Scamander arrives in New York by boat, carrying a mysterious suitcase that is home to dozens of magical creatures.
In the streets of New York, he comes across Mary Lou Barebone preaching about the existence of witches and other magical people. While Newt listens to Mary Lou, a Niffler, a small furry creature attracted to precious metals and gems, escapes from his suitcase and runs into a bank. Newt chases after it, causing mayhem everywhere and inadvertently dragging along a "No-Maj" named Jacob Kowalski, a World War I veteran and canning factory worker who is at the bank seeking a loan for a bakery. After retrieving the Niffler from the bank vault, Newt takes Jacob outside and prepares to obliviate him, but Jacob strikes him with the suitcase and escapes. Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein, a demoted auror, arrests Newt and takes him to Seraphina Picquery, the president of MACUSA (The Magical Congress of the United States of America), who dismisses them as unimportant.
Auror Percival Graves comes to Tina's office and demands to see what is in Newt's suitcase after Tina explains the situation to him. Upon opening it, Newt and Tina both are stunned to find pastries inside it, and Newt realizes he must have accidentally switched his suitcase with Jacob's. At his apartment, Jacob accidentally lets loose several of the magical creatures.
Meanwhile, Mary Lou is revealed to be running an orphanage of sorts, in which she indoctrinates the children with stories of evil witches and uses them to distribute anti-witch leaflets. Her youngest daughter, Modesty, proudly sings songs about dead witches, while her eldest son, Credence, is isolated and displays signs of discomfort with their professed ideology. Credence, unknown to Mary Lou, is approached several times by Graves, who has tasked him with finding a young child possessed by an Obscurus, whom Graves believes is connected to a number of unexplained, destructive magical incidents that have recently occurred in New York City. Graves has promised to rescue Credence from his troubled life and teach him magic if he succeeds.
Newt and Tina arrive at Jacob's place, where they find half his apartment blown up, and Jacob somewhat ill due to a bite from a Murtlap. Newt restores the apartment and Tina takes them to her home, where they meet Queenie, her younger sister who is skilled in Legilimency (mind-reading). Newt and Jacob are allowed to spend the night at their place, where Newt pulls Jacob into his suitcase, inside which Newt shows him his collection of magical beasts who are misunderstood by the world. While wandering through various environments within the suitcase, Jacob comes across a small dark entity, which Newt describes as an Obscurus, and urges Jacob not to touch it. Newt, after doing a count of missing beasts, leave the suitcase in order to find the first missing beast, an Erumpent, but Newt soon realizes his Niffler has once again escaped, and they recapture him at a jewelry store after a short struggle. They then come across several escaped ordinary animals including a lion and an ostrich, and they follow the trail back to the Central Park Zoo. Tina and Queenie soon realize that the two men are missing and Tina sets out to find them. She witnesses Newt and Jacob retrieving the Erumpent and heading back into Newt's suitcase. Determined to prove she's right to MACUSA, she locks the suitcase with Newt and Jacob inside and takes it with her back to MACUSA headquarters. Meanwhile, at MACUSA, many of the leaders have convened to address the dark force terrorizing New York City, which has resurfaced and killed a U.S. Senator. Tina shows President Picquery, Graves and a room full of important wizards what Newt has been up to. Picquery and Graves, however, arrest Newt, Tina and Jacob, and confiscate the suitcase.
Graves questions Newt about the presence of an Obscurus inside his suitcase. It is explained to be a dark force inadvertently created by young children who suppress their magic, out of fear of discovery or persecution by the non-magical community. A side effect of this magic is that the child hosts of Obscuruses, known as Obscurials, die before the age of 10. Newt had captured the Obscurus in his suitcase after it killed its Obscurial host, a young Sudanese girl. The child that Graves is seeking is in fact another unidentified Obscurial, who has continued wreaking havoc in the city and even killed United States Senator Henry Shaw, Jr. at a banquet. Graves sentences Newt and Tina to death, which is overheard by Queenie while reading Tina's mind. Newt uses one of his recently captured beasts, a Swooping Evil, to escape the Aurors, and together with Queenie, they retrieve Jacob and sneak out of MACUSA headquarters.
Meanwhile, Credence is shown to be growing more unstable due to his abusive home, and when he finds a wand underneath Modesty's bed, Mary Lou assumes that it is his and prepares to whip him with his belt, as she frequently does whenever he misbehaves. Modesty then confesses that the wand is hers, and when Mary Lou turns on her to whip her, the Obscurus appears, destroys the entire house, and seemingly kills everyone except for Credence and Modesty. Graves finds Credence later, and urges him to help him find Modesty, whom he believes to be the child from the prophecy. Newt, Tina, Jacob and Queenie visit a magical speakeasy to ask its goblin owner, Gnarlack, for information about the final missing beast, Dougal, a Demiguise who has the unfortunate power of being invisible. After Newt pretends to trade his Bowtruckle for information, Graves and his Aurors arrive at the nightclub, having been informed by Gnarlack about the foursome's presence there. Newt and his friends escape, and manage to track down Dougal, who is revealed to be caring for an escaped Occamy, a magical creature which can expand or shrink itself to fit any available space. Now having taken residence in the roof of Macy's, the Occamy has expanded itself to the size of a dragon. Newt, Tina and Jacob trick the Occamy into shrinking until it fits into a teapot and, relieved, Newt puts it back in his suitcase, now having retrieved all of the escaped magical beasts.
Graves and Credence track Modesty down to her old home where she used to live with her biological family. After cruelly rejecting Credence as a Squib and telling him that he was never going to help him escape his abusive life, Graves prepares himself to capture a terrified Modesty. However, Credence then reveals that he was the child possessed by the Obscurus all along. Fueled by his rage for Graves, Credence unleashes the full power of the Obscurus. Now incorporeal, Credence ravages the streets of New York, leaving chaos and destruction in his path. Newt, realizing that the lack of information Aurors have on Obscurials will lead them to kill Credence, sets out to find him. He tracks him down to an underground subway station, where he soothes Credence back into corporeal form. The arrivals of Graves and Tina cause Credence to shift back and forth between corporeal and non-corporeal state. When President Picquery and rest of the Aurors arrive, Picquery orders Credence's death in the interest of protecting magical secrecy. Despite protests from Newt, Tina and Graves, the Aurors kill Credence. Graves berates MACUSA for their actions and their obsessive need to preserve the thin veil of secrecy between the magical and non-magical world, which he claims has created situations like these and favors the interests of the non-magical community above the needs of wizards. Picquery orders Graves to hand over his wand and surrender himself. Graves battles the Aurors and seems to gain the upper hand until Newt overpowers and binds him using one of his creatures. Using the Revelio Charm, Graves is revealed to be Gellert Grindelwald, the most notorious Dark Wizard in the world. He is arrested and taken back to MACUSA. Newt, meanwhile, uses his Thunderbird to spread an amnesiac potion using the rain, wiping the memories of all No-majs who witnessed the magical havoc. Picquery orders them to wipe Jacob's memory as well, reminding them there are no exceptions, although she allows them to say goodbye. Queenie, who has grown fond of Jacob, kisses him before they leave.
A little while later, Newt changes Jacob's suitcase with a suitcase filled with silver Occamy eggshells to use as collateral for a bank loan for his bakery. Tina gets her old job as an Auror back, and she and Newt say their goodbyes at the harbor. Newt promises he will return once he has finished his book. Queenie visits Jacob's bakery, which is running extremely successfully especially due to the eateries he makes inspired by the beasts he met but doesn't remember. The scene ends with Jacob appearing to faintly recognize her.
- Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander
- Katherine Waterston as Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein
- Dan Fogler as Jacob Kowalski
- Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein
- Colin Farrell as Percival Graves
- Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald
- Carmen Ejogo as President Seraphina Picquery
- Samantha Morton as Mary Lou Barebone
- Ezra Miller as Credence Barebone
- Ron Perlman as Gnarlack
- Jon Voight as Henry Shaw, Sr.
- Josh Cowdery as Henry Shaw Jr.
- Faith Wood-Blagrove as Modesty Barebone
- Jenn Murray as Chastity Barebone
- Ronan Raftery as Langdon Shaw
- Zoë Kravitz as Leta Lestrange
- Gemma Chan
- George Najsarek
The book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is mentioned as a school textbook in the Harry Potter book series, although Scamander himself does not appear in any of the books. In 2001 Rowling published an edition of the "textbook" to be sold to raise money for the British charity Comic Relief. The book is a directory of magical creatures written with an introduction by its author Newt Scamander; it does not contain a storyline narrative. (In literature, the creation of such a long work not part of a novel's narrative storyline is known as a false document.)
First announced in September 2013, the project marks Rowling's debut as a screenwriter. The film sees the return of producer David Heyman, as well as writer Steve Kloves, both veterans of the Potter film franchise. After Alfonso Cuarón declined involvement, Warner Bros. announced that David Yates would direct at least the first instalment of a planned trilogy. James Newton Howard was contracted to compose the score.
Rowling's third draft was accepted after some improvements done by Yates, Heyman, and Kloves.
Eddie Redmayne was cast in the lead role of Newt Scamander, the Wizarding World's preeminent magizoologist, in June 2015. Matt Smith and Nicholas Hoult were also considered. Alison Sudol, in her feature film debut, and Katherine Waterston were subsequently chosen to play the witch sisters Queenie and Tina. Ezra Miller and Colin Farrell joined the cast as the wizards Credence and Graves, while comedian Dan Fogler was cast as Jacob, a non-magical person whom Newt befriends. Following thousands of auditions in an open casting call, ten-year-old Faith Wood-Blagrove was chosen for the part of Modesty. Jenn Murray signed on to star as Chastity, and Samantha Morton was cast as Mary Lou. Jon Voight, Gemma Chan, Carmen Ejogo and Ron Perlman were cast in unnamed roles.
Michael Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series was desperate to star in the spin-off.
Principal photography on the film commenced on 17 August 2015, at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden. Several scenes were also shot on location in London. After two months, the production moved to St George's Hall in Liverpool, which was transformed into 1920s New York. Filming concluded on 28 January 2016.
On 9 April 2016, it was announced that James Newton Howard would write and compose the film's score. On 24 October, Pottermore published an official first look at the film's main theme composed by Howard. The main theme will incorporate John Williams' themes from earlier films. The soundtrack was released by WaterTower Music on 18 November 2016.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them held its world premiere at Alice Tully Hall in New York City on 10 November 2016. The film will be released worldwide on 18 November 2016, in 2D, 3D and the new IMAX 4K Laser system. It will premiere one day earlier in a number of other countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany and Italy, on 17 November.
WB Games is set to release a "story pack" based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for the video game Lego Dimensions. The pack will include a constructible model of MACUSA, figures of Newt Scamander and a Niffler, and a six-level game campaign that adapts the film's events. The pack is set to be released on the same day as the film, alongside a "fun pack" containing figures of Tina Goldstein and a Swooping Evil. The cast of the film reprises their roles in the game.
On 4 November 2015, Entertainment Weekly released the first official publicity shots of the film, containing pictures of characters Newt, Tina, and Queenie, and production and filming being held in various sets designed to mirror 1920's New York City. On 10 December 2015, it was announced that an "announcement trailer" would be released five days later, on 15 December. Along with the one-minute trailer, a teaser poster was released.
During "A Celebration of Harry Potter" at Universal Orlando Resort in February 2016, a featurette was released showcasing several interviews with various cast and crew members, as well as the first official behind-the-scenes footage.
Rowling has also released four pieces of writing exclusively as an introduction to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, titled History of Magic in North America. It includes information about scourers, brutal and violent magical mercenaries who played a big role in the historic Salem witch trials of the 1600s, as well as info about various American wand makers, the role magic played in World War One, Native American magic, the foundation of MACUSA, the way No-Maj/Wizarding segregation was enforced brutally after a violent and terrifying breach of the international statute of secrecy and the institution of Rappaports Law, and life in 1920's Wizarding America, with info about Wand Permits and Prohibition.
On 10 April 2016, the first "teaser trailer" was released during the MTV Movie Awards.
On 26 April 2016, it was announced that the film's script will be released in the form of a book on November 19.
More visual publicity for the film was released at CineEurope and VidCon on 23 June. A new featurette entitled "A New Hero" was released later in the day, and a well received test screening was held in Chicago at the end of July, with viewers praising the complex plot line, the emotion, and the darkness at the heart of the story.
A third Art-Deco/German Expressionist-style poster was revealed at Comic-Con. Interactive wand stations have appeared at both VidCon and Comic-Con conventions. A new trailer for the film was unveiled at Warner Bros.' Comic-Con Hall H panel shortly after an interview with members of the cast. A quick-to-sell-out signing took place shortly thereafter.
Rowling released a second part to her History of Magic in North America series, entitled "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," which details the founding of the preeminent American Wizarding academy and allows users to sort themselves into one of the four houses of the school. The school apparently has a very minor role in the film.
On 10 August, more information and publicity shots for the film were released through Entertainment Weekly, with new information on Ezra Miller's character Credence Barebone and the news that Zoe Kravitz would have a role in the series. New images released include the quartet running down a New York City alleyway, David Yates chatting to stars Katherine Waterston and Eddie Redmayne on the set in front of a blown out Subway station, Colin Farrell's character Percival Graves interrogating an arrested and handcuffed Newt, and Graves and Credence putting up anti-magic propaganda.
Beginning in the month of September, more news was released on the various tie-in books being released for the film. On 28 September, the final trailer for the film officially premiered via EllenTube, quickly becoming the most viewed film trailer of the year to date. Not long after, an announcement was made that a global fan event would be held in London and Los Angeles, as well as a number of other cities worldwide, on 13 October. A live Q&A was held and more new footage from the film was revealed. Visitors were treated to the first seven minutes of the film and were also invited to stay for the first film of the Harry Potter franchise in IMAX, the start of a marketing push that saw all 8 films return to IMAX theatres internationally for one week leading up to the release of Fantastic Beasts. Due to demand, the fan event was expanded to a number of other US and international locations.
As of 18 November 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has grossed $29.7 million in North America and $53.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $83.3 million. The film was made on a budget of $180 million, with an additional $150 million spent on marketing. Worldwide, the film is expected to earn around $160–205 million on its opening weekend from around 64 markets in 22,000 screens. Its box office prospects (the first film as well as the remaining four) have been compared to that of The Hobbit trilogy (especially the first installment), a spin-off of The Lord of the Rings film series and Maleficent. Warner Bros. also used Doctor Strange to highlight the film's performance in some markets given it’s a recent fall release.
In the United States and Canada, early tracking has the film grossing $68–85 million in its opening weekend, with some estimates going as high as $100 million. The film was released in 4,143 theaters, of which 388 theaters were IMAX and over 3,600 are showing the film in 3D. It opened Friday, November 18, earning $29.7 million on its first day. That's the second-lowest opening day among Rowling's wizarding cinematic adaptations (behind the $29.6 million Friday of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets). This imcludes $8.75 million it earned from Thursday night preview screenings beginning at 6 pm in 3,700 theaters which was well below the midnight preview grosses for the last few Harry Potter sequels and just below the $8.8 million made by The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug in 2013.
Outside North America, the film will debut day-and-date in 63 countries, sans China and Japan, where it is expected to gross $90–125 million in its opening weekend. It opened Wednesday, November 17, 2016, in 9 countries, earning $6.9 million from 5,070 screens. It opened in 38 more countries on November 18, earning $16.6 million for a total of $23.5 million in two days.
It recorded the biggest opening day of all-time among the Harry Potter franchise in Korea ($1.7 million), the UAE ($429,000) and Ukraine and the second biggest in Russia and the CIS ($1.7 million), Brazil ($1.3 million) and in Indonesia ($480,000), all behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. It also scored the second biggest Warner Bros. opening of all-time in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Notably, France opened with $1.8 million, Australia with $1.6 million and Germany with $1 million ($2 million including paid previews).
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 76% based on 198 reviews, with an average rating 6.9/10. The site's consensus reads, "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them draws on Harry Potter's rich mythology to deliver a spinoff that dazzles with franchise-building magic all its own." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating, the film has a score 65 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film five out of five stars, hailing it as "a rich, baroque, intricately detailed entertainment" and a "terrifically good-natured, unpretentious and irresistibly buoyant film." IndieWire's Eric Kohn gave the film a B+ saying that it "delivers the most satisfying period fantasy since Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," and that its layers of sophistication made it one of the best Hollywood blockbusters of the year.
Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, writing, "Newt Scamander is nothing like Harry, but it has to be this way. It all has to be different. And it is, but, again, with just enough 'sameness' to make us feel like we are at home again. I’m looking forward to wherever these movies are taking us." John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film is "likely to draw in just about everyone who followed the Potter series and to please most of them."
Initially, in October 2014, the studio announced the film will be the start of a trilogy. The second instalment is set to be released on 16 November 2018, followed by the third instalment on 20 November 2020. David Yates confirmed that Rowling had written the screenplay for the second film and has ideas for the third. However, in October 2016 Rowling confirmed that the series would comprise five films.