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Why The Best Harry Potter Movie Won’t Be A Harry Potter Movie

The news that JK Rowling’s short novella Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them would be adapted into three features film scared a lot of fans of the series but they may have reason to be hopeful. In fact, if the current rumors that Alfonso Cuaron is in talk to direct are true, Harry Potter fans may be looking at the best movie in the canon.

The Book

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was published in 2001, in between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix. It is a short book (it clocks in at under 50 pages) and describes numerous creatures that inhabit the Harry Potter universe. It is meant to be a textbook for first year students at Hogwarts, written by Newt Scamander, a ‘magizoologist’. Apart from having detailed descriptions of magical creatures such as Hippogriffs and kneazles, it also has notes written in the margins by Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. It is quick read and enjoyable for anyone who has read the Harry Potter series and is looking for a window into the magical world beyond Hogwarts.

The Movie

There is not a lot of information about the upcoming movie; it is to released on November 18,2016, will be produced by Harry Potter alum David Heyman, and (most importantly) will be written by JK Rowling herself. That news is the first good sign and possibly the best. JK Rowling knows this world as well as she knows the real world and she knows how to write it so we believe it. The movies will follow Newt Scamander as he tracks these creatures all across the world, starting in 1920’s New York. Even better: we’re out of England, which means fans will get to see how the rest of the wizarding world works. And Newt Scamander has no connection to the rise of Voldemort or the cast of the Harry Potter books. This will be a trilogy about the wizarding world and nothing else. Will there be small jokes for die hard fans? Possibly. Probably. There’s no reason we can’t hear about Albus Dumbledore or Nicholas Flamel. We’ll probably get a joke about Acromantula, the giant spider species that Aragog comes from and Ron fears. We may even get another fight with a Hungarian Horntail. And that’s fine. That’s great. In-references to the main series are the perfect way to keep fans happy because as much as this is a separate trilogy from Harry Potter, it is those fans who will flock to theaters. And it is those fans that the movie needs to please if they plan to make three of them.

Why It Could Be The Best

Regardless of your personal opinion on the Harry Potter movies, they were not the Harry Potter books. Entire characters were cut (Ludo Bagman, anyone?), character arcs were sliced (Lupin and Tonks had a child, for anyone who missed it) and bizarre decisions were made (the dance scene-you know which one). Fans saw the movies, true fans saw the movies a few times, but they were never truly satisfied because the movies were not the books they had come to love.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban polarizes more fans the most of the movies. The book is a favorite since it introduces the Marauders for the first time and is the last book before things start to get very dark. The movie was not quite what they were expecting. Director Alfonso Cuaron created a very beautiful movie, full of great atmosphere and images, but the Marauders were hardly mentioned and it did not follow the book.  And now, there are rumors circling that  Cuaron might be in talks to direct Fantastic Beasts. Fans could be scared but the shouldn’t be. In fact, they can even be tentatively hopeful.  

Cuaron is already familiar with the wizarding world and how to portray it. He knows how show magic and how to use creatures-his was the movie that introduced us to Buckbeak, after all. He makes beautiful movies and that is perfect for a film that is all about imaginary animals. All the things that fans disliked about his entry in the film series, namely how much it diverged from the book, won’t matter. JK Rowling is writing the script and there is no plot for Cuaron to follow. He is working on a film that has no expectations and doesn’t have the emotional attachment that goes along with the other books and films.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will never be a true Harry Potter movie. It won’t have Harry and it won’t have Hogwarts. But that is what could make it so good. Cuaron doesn’t have to balance pleasing fans and film critics, there are fan-favorite scenes to worry about cutting and there isn’t a strict source material. All the movie needs to do is be good and with JK Rowling penning the script and a director who knows her world, there is no reason it shouldn’t be.