'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them': What we know

By Sarah Mulé  |  Updated Oct. 25, 2016 at 12:37 PM
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LOS ANGELES, Oct. 25 (UPI) -- Five years after the premiere of the final Harry Potter film, J.K. Rowling is preparing to take over movie theater box offices once again, this time with a different wizard and a new set of adventures.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Rowling's upcoming film and first in a new series, is poised to turn a whole new generation into fans of Rowling's wizarding world, even without The Boy Who Lived.

Fantastic Beasts follows the story of Newt Scamander, a magizoologist who travels the world in search of magical creatures.

Fans of the Potter series might recognize Scamander as the author of one of Hogwarts' required school books, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Rowling released the textbook, along with two others, in 2001 as part of a benefit for the Comic Relief charity.

The film, which takes place in New York City in 1926, shines light on Scamander's travels and gives fans a first look at the wizarding world in the United States (including the American Ministry of Magic, MACUSA, or Magical Congress of the United States of America) and a deeper look at its magical creatures.

Scamander, played by Oscar and Tony Award winning actor Eddie Redmayne, arrives in New York with his enchanted briefcase full of magical creatures, and finds a city currently under attack by a mysterious creature which is destroying the streets. The magical community is also facing the threats of the Second Salemers, a fanatical group whose goal is to eradicate witches and wizards.

Tensions rise when an unsuspecting No-Maj (which is the American term for Muggle, or non-magic folk) named Jacob Kowalski, played by Dan Fogler, opens Scamander's case and sets some of the "fantastic beasts" loose in an already dangerous city.

Scamander and Kowalski are joined by Porpentina "Tina" Goldstein, played by Katherine Waterston and her sister Queenie, played by Alison Sudol, in a hunt to gather the creatures before they're caught -- either by the evil Second Salemers or by Percival Graves, played by Colin Farrell, the Director of Magical Security at MACUSA.

Samantha Morton, Ezra Miller, Ron Perlman, and Jon Voight also star in the film, which is directed by David Yates and produced by David Heyman, both Potter alums.

Rowling, who wrote the screenplay for the movie, is planning to carry Scamander's story over five films. The sequel is already slated for a 2018 release.

Fantastic Beasts also sets the stage for a battle between a young Albus Dumbledore and pre-Voldemort Dark Wizard, Gellert Gindelwald, which will likely be explored in one of the upcoming movies. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them premieres in theaters on Nov. 18.

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