Fans of the Harry Potter series of books and the universe created within them don't have much longer to wait for the next film set in that world. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will serve as a prequel to the stories we already know, following the adventures of Newt Scamander, the man responsible for one of the most infamous textbooks at Hogwarts. Set in the 1920s, the movie will follow Newt's story as he arrives in New York. There, he inadvertently releases one of his beasts and does everything he can to find it, while helping to prevent a war between muggles and wizards. The movie, which releases worldwide on November 18, will return Harry Potter fans to the magical worlds they love. Here's what we know about the film so far.
15 The plot
"Eccentric magizoologist Newt Scamander (Oscar winner Eddie Redmayne) comes to New York (for a reason we won’t disclose) with his trusty weathered case," Entertainment Weekly wrote when the plot of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them first surfaced. "This case is one of those way-way-way-bigger-on-the-inside magical devices, and within are expansive habitats for a collection of rare and endangered magical creatures from Newt’s travels around globe. He discovers the American wizarding community is fearfully hiding from Muggles (who are called “No-Maj” in the States, more on that here) and the threat of public exposure is an even graver concern than in the UK (remember the Salem witch trials?). Fantastic Beasts is the story of what happens when this uniquely skilled English wizard travels to wiz-phobic America and a variety of his creatures, some quite dangerous … get out of their case."
14 North America also has a wizarding school
Although rarely mentioned in the books, North America also has witches and wizards, meaning they had to train somewhere. The Pottermore website introduced the North American school for witchcraft and wizardry, Ilvermorny, and it's likely we'll learn a bit more about that school in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. Ilvermorny is at the top of Mount Greylock in Western Massachusetts. Like Hogwarts, the school has four houses: Horned Serpent, Wampus, Thunderbird and Pukwudgie. In the timeline of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Ilvermonry is nearly two centuries old. Ilvermorny Castle was originally founded by Isolt Sayre and her husband James Steward. It became a school when their children came of magical age: rather than send them across the ocean to Hogwarts, Sayre and Steward established a school in North America.
One thing we know almost everything about at this point is the cast of the film and which characters they will play. Oscar nominated actor Eddie Redmayne portrays Newt Scamander in the movie, the man who will later pen the Hogwarts textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Katherine Waterston is Porpentina Goldstein, a witch who works for the Magical Congress of the United States (similar to the U.K.'s Ministry of Magic). Alison Sudol is her sister, Queenie, a Legilimens, someone who can extract thoughts and memories from people's minds. Ezra Miller is Credence, while Colin Farrell portrays Percival Graves. Other cast members include Dan Fogler, Samantha Morton, Gemma Chan, Zoe Kravitz, Ron Perlman, and Jon Voight. The director is David Yates, with a screenplay by J.K. Rowling.
12 The Magical Congress of the United States of America
The Magical Congress of the United States of America is the North American equivalent of the U.K.'s Ministry of Magic. Pottermore recently revealed new details about this institution ahead of the movie, which will play an important part in the film, as at least one of the main characters, Porpentina, who works for the agency. A short article on Pottermore reveals more details about The Magical Congress, which was originally located in the Appalachian Mountains, but eventually moved to New York City and became hidden from No-Majs (that's the North American term for Muggles). This story also details the role The Magical Congress played during the American Civil War, as well as how they view the Statute of Secrecy, which dictates how witches and wizards should hide their magical world from No-Majs.
11 The beasts
Thanks to trailers released by Warner Bros. in anticipation of the movie, we've also seen some of Newt Scamander's beasts. Some of these are already familiar to the Harry Potter universe, such as the Niffler, who we got a peek at in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This is a cute, little creature that resembles a badger that carries a bag that hides all the treasure that it finds. We'll also get a better look at the Bowtruckle, who only got a brief mention in the Harry Potter movies and books. This is a small woodland creature that resembles a plant. The hippogriff-like Thunderbird also appears in the new movie, which makes sense as it is a mascot for one of the Ilvermorny houses.
10 There will be at least one character from the previous books/movies
Although fans can't expect to see Harry Potter and friends in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (they haven't been born yet), there is at least one character that will show up that fans already know. As to who that is is anyone's guess, but director Yates teased the appearance when asked about it, "There is a mention of some characters that we know and love from previous movies, but we only talk about them fleetingly," he said to Reuters. "In the next movie, part two, we'll get to meet one of them in a significant way. He's much younger than he used to be, but he'll be coming back." Some speculate that this particular character is Dumbledore, who could play an important part in helping the characters prevent a war between the No-Majs and wizards.
9 What we know about Newt
The main character of the movie, Newt Scamander, is a complicated individual. He seems to love animals more than people, and this seems to make him unlikable to others who come across him. Actor Redmayne described him as we'll see the character in the film. "He’s a man with a passion, and his passion is animals," he said to Entertainment Weekly. "His mother bred hippogriffs, and it’s the world he’s most comfortable in. He’s not particularly comfortable with human relationships. He’s comfortable in his own skin, but he disconnects with people. People seem to misunderstand him, and he doesn’t know why, but he’s also not particularly interested in why. He has his own relationship with his animals." Redmayne also mentioned that Newt isn't particularly good with magic.
8 Porpentina is nothing like Hermione Granger
Although the comparisons are likely, actress Katherine Waterstone, who portrays Porpentina, assures fans that her character is not another version of Hermione Granger. "It never occurred to me to compare myself to her just because we’re both female, in any way," she said to Collider. "You know, they’re totally different characters and I don’t feel like I’m stepping into her shoes simply because I’m a woman. It’s just amazing to be a part of this world that means so much to people and I don’t have any problem with considering it in that way. It just never occurred to me to think of it in those terms and probably it would make me nervous at the thought of it (laughs) because she was so good in those films. So, I just don’t think about that."
7 The movie combines genres
Another thing that Redmayne mentioned about the film is that it combines genres, much like the previous Harry Potter movies. Fans can expect a lot of dark moments, with thrills, chills, and spills. But Redmayne also teased that there's some comedy and romance, too. "One of the things that I found quite extraordinary about the script when I read it is that it’s there are moments that feel like a thriller," he said. "There is a dark aspect to it. There is a kind of comedic quality to it, and sort of romance. We have all these different genres, and yet somehow J.K. Rowling has managed to weave them together. I think it’s surprising about how moving it is. All I have when I read scripts is that instinct, and I was really moved by it."
6 A reference to the greatest wizarding battle of all time
Another reason why fans believe that Dumbledore could put in an appearance in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the mention of a particular character in the movie's final trailer. In that trailer, President Seraphina Picquery of the Magical Congress of the United States of America, believes that the release of Newt's creatures is possibly not accidental, but somehow connected to what's going on in Europe with the war there that involves Gestalt Grindelwald. Harry Potter fans know that name because this was a character mentioned in the books, a Hitler-like wizard who wanted to rule the wizarding and muggle worlds as its bonafide leader, that is until Dumbledore battled and defeated him in 1945, less than 20 years before the setting of the new movie.
5 It's the first movie of three
Perhaps the best news Harry Potter fans have seen since the announcement of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is that this movie is only the first of a trilogy, meaning that there's much more magical goodness on its way. Earlier this year, Rowling confirmed that the movie wasn't a standalone film, but part of a much larger three-part story. This means that the first movie will just set up the story, which will likely tie in with the wizarding war that pits Dumbledore against Grindenwald in Europe in the 1940s. It's not a stretch to assume that the consequences of what's going on in Europe affects the U.S., too, so those details from the Harry Potter books could play into all three of the Fantastic Beasts films.
4 No-Majs and Second Salemers
Those who can't do magic get called "No Majs" in the Fantastic Beasts film. For the most part, No-Majs are basically Muggles with most unaware that there's this whole magical world that exists all around them. As they say, ignorance is bliss. But there is one group, though, that knows all about magic, as well as witches and wizards. And this group is out for magical blood. They're called the "Second Salemers," basically suggesting that they believe magical peoples should get burned at the stake. Their leader is Mary Lou, as portrayed by actress Samantha Morton. Not only do they seek to expose witchcraft to the rest of the world, but they want to destroy magic-doers. And all this goes on while Newt's creatures are on the loose.
3 Mary Lou's son is probably a wizard
Between trailers and interviews, fans have learned that Mary Lou is the head of the Second Salemers, a group that hate wizards and all that the magical world stands for. But in a strange twist of irony, all signs point to her adopted son, Credence, as a wizard. This will obviously cause some tension between mother and son, perhaps in ways we haven't yet seen. Credence is also one of those character who is withdrawn from society and shy, but that doesn't stop an Auror from taking interest in him. This Auror chooses to manipulate Credence for his own agenda, and it's likely that has something to do with taking down Credence's magic-hating mother. There's still a lot we don't know about Credence, though, so we'll have to watch the film to find out what his story really is.
2 But a non-magical human plays an important role to Newt
There is one No-Maj that is not only aware of the wizarding world, but an important part of it. Jacob Kowalski (Dan Fogler) is a former WW I soldier, who is now back in the U.S. working in a factory. Shortly after breaking up with his girlfriend, he has a fateful meeting with Newt, who introduced him to the magical world of witches and wizards. He somehow becomes a part of that magical world, in spite of his inability to do magic, and finds himself wrapped up in Newt's adventures.
"So, then you bring this character who’s like this lovable guy that’s been through hell, who really doesn’t have anybody and then, suddenly he has this motley crew of a family," Fogler told The Leaky Cauldron. "And for the first part of it, he thinks he’s dreaming. He can’t believe that (chuckles) any of this is going on and then he slowly realizes, whoa, he’s not normal. This is real, you know. And I think that he’s such a loyal guy that no matter what happens to these people – No matter how magical or fanciful or ridiculous, he’s just gonna stick with them to the end, you know."
1 All eight Harry Potter movies will return to big screen before its release
What's better than celebrating a Harry Potter prequel movie than watching all the previous movies just before the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Nothing, we say! That's why IMAX theaters all over the world decided to plan a full marathon showing of all eight of the previous Harry Potter movies to get fans in the right mood for the release of Fantastic Beasts. The event begins on October 13 and will feature six of the Harry Potter movies in IMAX, while introducing the first two movies to IMAX for the first time. These screenings will also offer a special sneak peek at Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as recorded greetings from the cast. For times and locations, check the official IMAX website.