With Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s release just around the corner, here’s some facts about the film based on a set visit from Collider. Here’s what we can expect from the Harry Potter spinoff/prequel.
- The producers were already thinking about an adaptation of Fantastic Beasts before they contacted J.K. Rowling, but their idea was to do a fake documentary about Newt Scamander. When they reached out to Rowling, she had already been thinking about the idea that became this finished film.
- The film is described as having a variety of colors; it’s not just darkness, humor, heart, or adventure—it’s all of these things.
- Fantastic Beasts, while focusing on adult characters, is not as dark as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
- Eddie Redmayne was their first and only choice to play Newt Scamander.
- Redmayne screen tested with the copious other actors who tested for the roles of the other three protagonists of the story.
- Newt Scamander is an outsider who is more comfortable with his creatures than he is with people.
- In designing the creatures for the film, the producers wanted to ground them so they felt like things that could actually exist.
- K. Rowling added a few creatures that weren’t in the Fantastic Beasts book for the film, to add some variety to the visual palette.
- Many of the themes found in Harry Potter are also expressed in Fantastic Beasts. Themes of what it means to be an outsider, doing the right thing, the moral greyness of the world.
- David Yates was unsure he wanted to return to the wizarding world after spending six years on the Harry Potter films, but after reading the script he fell in love with the material.
Yates was excited about the prospect of getting to build this material from the ground up, rather than jumping on the moving train that wasPotter.
- Visually, Yates approached the film in a simply, classical, and elegant way while also embracing the 1920s aspect of the story.
- Yates likes to keep the camera rolling between takes so the actors can roll right into another take without breaking for 10 minutes to think about the scene or lose concentration.
- Eddie Redmayne got to help pick which wand would be appropriate for Newt.
- The story of the film takes place over the course of a couple of days.
- Redmayne got to meet with Rowling before the start of filming, where he proceeded to grill her for information about Newt.
- When Newt first appears in New York, he’s been in the field for a year.
- They used a variety of techniques for the various creatures opposite Eddie Redmayne, as it was important that they were each treated like different characters. Pickett, who is a little stick creature, was a little stick with a wire that was controlled by a puppeteer for rehearsals, then when they shot there was nothing there but Redmayne knew what it would feel like to have the character on his shoulder.
- When Ezra Miller, an avowed Harry Potter fan, found out he got the role, he dropped to his knees in the middle of New York and started yelling.
- MACUSA, the American version of the Ministry of Magic, has a female president named Seraphina Picquery, and the wizarding community as a whole in the 20s doesn’t seem to be divided as much by race or gender as the muggle community is.
- Colin Farrell plays Graves, the chief security officer for the protection of wizards for MACUSA. He is the right hand man of President Picquery.
- Graves is investigating the goings-on in NYC, and he corresponds with Newt’s brother Theseus who lives in the U.K. and is a very powerful Auror.
- The film utilized 11,000 extras in all to bring the world and the bustling streets of 1920s New York City to life.
- MACUSA operates with the technology of the time period, like vacuum tube mail delivery systems, but in a magical way.
The majority of the film was shot at Leavesden Studios outside London. There were only three on-location shoots, all in Liverpool.
- Newt’s wand is made of bone and appears more handmade.
- They built a massive New York City exterior set at Leavesden which included real shop fronts, stores that you could go inside, streetcar rails, and even manholes that produced steam.
- Jacob lives on the Lower East Side of New York. Tina and Queenie live in a brownstone.
- Jacob has just returned from World War I, so he’s a bit desensitized to the beasts that are flying around.
- Fogler sees the Jacob/Newt relationship as the origin story of Holmes and Watson.
- Jacob comes into the story when he gets bitten by one of Newt’s magical creatures.
- Jacob becomes very friendly with a creature called the Demiguise, which is hard to catch because it can tell the future.
- Jacob has a crush on Queenie.
Sisters Tina and Queenie basically raised each other because their parents died when they were very young.
- Goblins and elves appear in the film.
- Some of the Fantastic Beasts featured in the movie include the Nundu, Thestral, Doxy, Mooncalf, Billywig, Kappa, Fwooper, Diricawl, Hippocampus, Giant Dung Beetle, Graphorn, Lethifold, Runespoor, Murtlap, Erumpent, Pickett, Demiguise, and the Niffler.
- There was snow on the streets of the New York set, with newspapers noting the date as December, so the film takes place during the winter.
- There’s a jazz club in the film called The Blind Pig.
- Production Designer Stuart Craig once again made the magical world synonymous with Gothic architecture, but the New York setting feels more contemporary than the Harry Potter films even though those took place in contemporary times.
- MACUSA headquarters was in part based on the Woolworth Building in New York, per J.K. Rowling.
- The film features a reproduction of the City Hall subway station.
- There’s a giant clock in MACUSA that measures the threat level that the magical world is feeling at any given moment.
- At their most busy, the production was up to 350 construction workers and craftsmen in order to bring the sets to life.
You can check out Collider’s page to get a detailed account of their set visit which included their reaction to seeing the massive set built for the film. Seriously, from their description the single set includes several New York City blocks, building interiors and even a recreation of portions of the Central Park Zoo. Taking place within the Harry Potter world this film was guaranteed to be a massive box office success, but it’s cool to see how much effort was put into the production.
Fantastic Beasts stars Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Ron Perlman, Carmen Ejogo, Jenn Murray, Faith Wood-Blagrove, Colin Farrell and Zoe Kravitz. The film is directed by David Yates from a screenplay by Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling. The movie is set to arrive in US theaters November 18, 2016.
“The year is 1926, and Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident, were it not for a No-Maj (American for Muggle) named Jacob, a misplaced magical case, and the escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts, which could spell trouble for both the wizarding and No-Maj worlds.”