Harry Potter spinoff FantasticBeasts seeks to cast its spell on China
Harry Potter’s magical world neverseemed so close to China as it does today.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a spinoff from the film franchise, will hit the mainland on Friday, a week after its British opening.
The trailers for China have received millions of “clicks” online, and Eddie Redmayne and Katherine Waterston, the lead stars, made news last week during their promotional tour in Beijing.
David Yates, the new film’s director and also the director of the last four Harry Potter films, said at a Beijing event on Nov 18 that a magical creature from China will show up in the sequel of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. A total of five installments have been planned in this film series.
From his point of view, the upcoming film is a “fresh start” for J.K. Rowling, who for the first time has worked as the scriptwriter for a film based on her famous book series.
“It’s very important for her to extend (the magical) world with new characters, to make everything feel fresher and different,” Yates says.
“She’s creating characters that are brand new, just as much fun, just as much meaningful, as the characters she created in Harry Potter,” he adds.
The film is adapted from a namesake book, originally published by Rowling in 2001. But this time, she has developed the story for the big screen.
While the storyline of the film has been newly created, it is set in the 1920s, 70 years beforeHarry Potter’s time. It is not a prequel or sequel but an expansion of thesamemagical world.
The protagonist in the new film, played by the youngestever Oscar winner Redmayne, is Newt Scamander — the author of a homonymic book. It is a textbook on “magizoology” at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, which records the habits of 75 kinds of fantastic beasts and their breeding methods. Here, the boundaries between reality and fantasy come crashing.
The character graduates from Hogwarts and comes across the magical creatures whomhe protects as they travel together. He carries the creatures around in a suitcase. During his adventures, Newt hopes tomake a brief stopover in New York, but his plan is ruined as some naughty beasts break out of the suitcase.
The escape of the beasts means both potential chaos in the streets of the cityandexposing the magician to people who might be against magic.
“This film can be enjoyed even if you haven’t read a single page of Harry Potter, or seen a single film,” Fantastic Beasts’ producer David Heyman says. “It’s infused with her spirit, it’s J.K. Rowling, it’s her, but it works on its own.”
Yates says Rowling has four more stories she wants to tell, and the next two films in the Fantastic Beasts series will probably come up in 2018 and 2020.
Yates and Heyman also hint that one of the most-loved Potter characters, Dumbledore, will appear in the next film.
Dumbledore is the principal of Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series, but back in 1926, he was just a teacher of transfiguration, withNewt as one of his favorite students in that school.
The Fantastic Beasts series will show a different Dumbledore, especially his sexual preference, which was implied in Rowling’s previous works.
Showing the complexity of the characters is one of the features that run through all of Rowling’s books.
A reason why people respond to Rowling’s work the way they do is because they see themselves in her characters, saysHeyman.
“You may have wonderful families, you may be in love, but we all at times feel alone, we all at times feel like we are outsiders. Her books celebrate outsiders.”
Online comments suggest many Chinese are looking forward to the film.
“The ‘no-maj’ in Fantastic Beasts is the best gift from Rowling to us,” Raymond KIDult remarks of the character Jacob who doesn’t have magical powers but becomes Newt’s friend. “When he is laughing and clapping his hands, jealously saying that he wants to be a wizard, isn’t he speaking for us?”
“We are the muggles who never get the admission notice,” another web-user, Yourenmofangwodelian, says.
XuHaoyu contributed to the story.