As the director behind the final four Harry Potter films starting with Order of the Phoenix, filmmaker David Yates was likely the most well-versed filmmaker in Potter lore. Chris Columbus kicked the franchise off with the first two films, Alfonso Cuaron brought a maturity and unique artistic quality to the series, and Mike Newell injected his inherent Britishness into the franchise, but it was Yates who handled the conclusion of The Boy Who Lived. And so it’s fitting that it now looks like he will get to start a Harry Potter franchise of his own, as news comes that Yates is in talks to helm the first installment in the spinoff Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. More after the jump.
There was no way that Warner Bros. was going to let go of the most successful film franchise in history after the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, it was just a question of when and how the series would be resurrected. Thankfully, it was author J.K. Rowling herself who spearheaded the next step in the evolution of the franchise, as she agreed to write the screenplay adaptation of her book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The film is an original story that takes place within the Harry Potter universe but at a different place and time: namely New York 70 years before the events of The Sorcerer’s Stone.
Earlier this year, Warner Bros. dated Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them for release on November 18, 2016, but had yet to announce a director. We heard that Prisoner of Azkaban helmer Cuaron was in talks to possibly take the helm, but he subsequently declined the offer. Now Variety reports that it will indeed be a Harry Potter veteran behind the camera, as David Yates has agreed to direct the first installment of the Fantastic Beasts franchise and has entered negotiations to settle into the director’s chair.
Order of the Phoenix was a big step up for Yates, who had previously dabbled in British television, notably helming the miniseries State of Play. After Potter, he tried to get a couple of projects off the ground—the small drama Your Voice in My Head and the ambitious The Stand—but neither took off. He’s finally in production on his first post-Potter film, Tarzan starring Alexander Skarsgard, but it appears that he’ll be diving back into the Harry Potter universe once he’s finished.
Variety notes that Warner Bros. always intended to approach someone who was already acquainted with the Harry Potter universe to direct at least the first Fantastic Beasts, which is why they broached the prospect with Cuaron. I was certainly a fan of where Yates took the series in the final stretch, and while I’m still curious to see what he does outside of the Potter universe, it’s hard not to get excited about the fact that he’s reuniting with Rowling on another Potter-like film.
Fantastic Beasts is envisioned as a trilogy, so it will definitely be fun to see what kind of filmmaker Warner Bros. enlisted for the next two films. After the fantastic pedigree they amassed for the Harry Potter series, they certainly have a high bar to clear.