Ever since Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them was announced, there’s been a feeling that J.K. Rowling was wanting to tell a story bigger than simply explaining how the Hogwarts schoolbook, which she Muggle-ised into our world as a 2001 paperback for charity Comic Relief, came into being. For starters, a 128-page book that’s essentially world-building was going to become a blockbuster movie, but then came the news that the Eddie Redmayne-led Harry Potter prequel was going to be the first installment in a three-, then five-part series.
Recent weeks have only deepened the mystery, with Johnny Depp cast in the series as Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard and proto-Voldemort, and director David Yates confirming future Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore would make an appearance in the sequel. However, it now looks like the key to all this may have been answered.
Speaking at the film’s premiere to Variety, Rowling discussed the decision to make the book into a multi-film series, and in doing so revealed that when all’s said and done it was going to span a whopping 19 years. Here’s what she had to say:
“Originally, to tell you the truth, we said a trilogy as a placeholder. We wanted to be honest with people that it was going to be more than one movie, but we were feeling our way. Then, there came a point in the drafting of our story where I said to David [Yates], ‘You know, this feels like five movies’, and I think I’m pretty certain about that. It’s pretty ambitious to tell it in five to be honest because we’re spanning 19 years, but I can see an arc to five – so that’s how it happened.”
Well, this news explains a lot — pretty much everything in fact. The first film, which is out next week, is set in 1926. 19 years takes us up to 1945, known to us Muggles as the end of World War II, but to those gifted with magic as the year when Dumbledore finally defeated Grindelwald. This means that Fantastic Beasts is indeed going to be detailing Albus’ torturous backstory as hinted at in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
This is a major reveal for Potterheads, not only pointing towards the Fantastic Beasts series having an epic scope, but all but confirming it is indeed likely to be the Dumbledore prequel that many fans have long hoped for. How the five films will break down exactly is unclear, but it’s reasonable to suggest that the fifth part will see the as-yet-uncast Albus take on Depp’s villain in a fight to save all of wizardkind. Additionally, there’s also a chance we’ll see the early years of Voldemort; He Who Must Not Be Named was born in December 31, 1926 and attended Hogwarts from 1938-1945, meaning Tom Riddle’s turn to the dark could be featured.
No matter your opinion on Fantastic Beasts, or its expansion to five films, it’s fair to say that Rowling won’t be light on story to explore.