The wild success of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ proves that the Potter fans are still out there, loyal and ravenous! This has to be encouraging to Warner Brothers who produced the ‘Potter’ films which took in over $8 billion. The studio is releasing ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ which is set in the same Wizarding World but almost 100 years before Harry Potter was even born. WB was looking to this to be their big winter release, but would fans embrace a ‘Potter’ movie sans Harry? Things are looking up!
But we almost got a very different film! Directed by David Yates, who helmed the last four ‘Potter’ films, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ looks lush, beautiful and exciting; in other words, a worthy successor that appears to match the wonder of the previous films, albeit minus all the darkness and dread. But the original concept for the movie was a very different ‘Beast’.
Producer David Heyman revealed:
“We were thinking about what to do and Lionel Wigram, who was one of the producers on this and who was the executive who I first sent Harry Potter way back in the beginning of 1997… He was thinking about what we could do and he had the idea of maybe doing a documentary about Newt. But ultimately I think Jo got word of that and sort of—I mean, we wouldn’t have done it without Jo’s permission or also a lot like, not sure we could’ve, but most certainly wouldn’t have done even if we could’ve [without her blessing].”
A documentary? That would certainly be different! It could have been a refreshing spin… or it could have been too different from the existing films to connect with the fans.
But it’s synergistic that the producers and Rowling were both tinkering with the idea of a Newt Scamander film. And as it turns out, Rowling penned the screenplay, her first.
“So, Lionel had this idea. Jo got wind of it. She said, ‘Well, funny enough I’d been thinking about something already.’ And she had this whole idea in some form. I mean, it’s changed and developed over the course of the year and a half and two years that’s been going on. But she knows how each part connects with her universe. She knows the history of magic before we were with Newt Scamander. She knows the history of the school where Queenie and Tina may have gone—I mean she has all this in her head. She knows creatures, their history, where they’re from and so on. She’s knows who Newt’s family is, she knows Queenie and Tina’s family, she has it all figured out in some way. So, when she started, she showed us the script and [we] went, ‘Whew. Thank you.’”
Indeed, no one knows this universe better than the woman who created it. Even with the ‘Potter’ novels concluded, Rowling has steadily been churning out new material to flesh this world out via the Pottermore website.
Would you have been curious to see this original documentary version? Or are you happier with a more straightforward approach?