While I would argue that there isn’t really a bad movie in the Harry Potter franchise, I would also say it took quite a while for the film series to actually find its true voice. Warner Bros. is a studio that has always prided itself on being “filmmaker-centric,” giving directors the power to do things that may not fly at other studios. This is something that was all too apparent in the first half of the Harry Potter series — wherein the Hogwarts grounds would change film-to-film, along with the supporting cast and visual/storytelling style.
It wasn’t until director David Yates came on board for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix that some legitimate continuity between films actually took place. Yates continued with the franchise for the entire second half of the series — directing four films in total.
It’s with that in mind that we’re going into Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a spinoff film set in America decades before the events in Harry Potter. Surprisingly, to bring this movie to the big screen, the studio didn’t reach out to some new filmmaker to help trailblaze new territory, but rather went back to Yates, the only other man who knows the franchise anywhere near as much as author J.K. Rowling.
Of course, the biggest question of all isn’t why the studio would go to him — Warner Bros. loves to go back to filmmakers they’ve worked with in the past — but why David Yates, after director four films in a single franchise, would want to go back to said franchise.
Speaking with Collider, Yates answered that very question.
â€œDo you know what was lovely for me, is with Potter the train had already left the station when I jumped on it. You know it was half way along the tracks and I got to do my thing with it but all the pieces were already on the table. Whereas, with this movie I built it from the ground up effectively. So, for a filmmaker and the storyteller that is always the most exciting thingâ€”to sort of cast it, to create it, to build it. I loved Joâ€™s concept of just dropping it into New York in 1926. Taking her universe but putting it through that paradigm was really exciting. And works.â€
So while Yates definitely put his own style to the Potter franchise, he never got the opportunity to do a ground-up adaptation — which, in many ways, could be seen as some of the more fun and rewarding bits of the process. It’s no wonder he jumped on board. It was his opportunity to legitimately make his mark in this growing world.
â€œItâ€™s liberatingâ€¦ itâ€™s incredibly liberating,” Yates continued.
“And also, you know with the books, everybody had their own their own idea of what certain characters should be like, how the story should evolve. Youâ€™re always working in the context of peopleâ€™s expectations which is fine and great and wonderful, as it should be actually â€™cause they are wonderful books. But whatâ€™s marvelous about this series is nobody has ever read them. (laughs) And they feel really fresh and weâ€™re not limited by page one to page four hundred and sixty five of something that pre-exists.â€
While there is a certain pressure innate in a film like this, Yates has already handled the worst of it when he originally jumped onto the movies. With no real source material for the film, he’ll have greater freedom than ever before. There’s no doubt about it, Yates is a talented filmmaker, and I’ll be interested to see what other unique aspects he’ll be bringing to the table for this franchise that we’ve never seen before.
What do you think? Are you excited to see what Yates does with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments down below!
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is set to hit theaters on November 18, 2016
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