As a franchise, Harry Potter is somewhat unique. The series opened with two simply unbearable and weightless adventures courtesy of Christopher Columbus, who went for adorable and ended up with two atonal messes that even a big fan of the franchise (such as myself) cannot return to, to this very day. Then, out of nowhere, Alfonso Cuaron came in with Prisoner of Azkaban and created one of the most visually alluring, emotionally lacerating, and deeply imaginative blockbusters of the aughts. It was a bolt of lightning that might have suggested a turn towards something like Mission Impossible, with each volume becoming showcases for major auteurs ranging from J.J. Abrams and John Woo to Brian De Palma and Brad Bird.
That’s not exactly how it went down, however. Instead, David Yates, a young but tremendously gifted filmmaker, was given the rest of the series and did a remarkable job of never allowing his visuals to become too repetitive, even as his sense of color tone seemed to increasingly deplete. He felt so blessed for the opportunity, and so close to the material, that he returned for the upcoming Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. The footage I’ve seen from the anticipated prequel has been uniformly strong, and surprisingly funny, and you can tell that Yates knows this world up and down. Which is almost certainly why Yates, during a recent interview with Collider, says he’s now looking to direct the whole of the new prequel franchise, which will consist of five films.
Here’s the exact exchange from the interview:
Do you feel like you’ll do the same thing as you did with Potter, where you won’t be able to say “no” and you’ll want to stay on for all five movies? You must get very protective, like a mother hen, when working with the kids on the Potter movies, at least to a certain point.
YATES: You know, it’s lovely being part of it and I love doing it. How long will I stay with it? I’d like to say I want to stay with it for the whole thing. The only thing that makes my knees wobble a little bit is just the sheer volume. Five movies over eight years is a massive undertaking, so I have to be careful that I’m able to give everything. If there’s any point in that period where I go, “You know what, it might be wise to step away for a bit,” I would, to give someone else a shot. But you do become slightly proprietorial. On Potter, once I’d done one, I enjoyed it so much I felt I had to do another one. Then to finish it, I couldn’t let anyone finish it. I had to finish it. I was territorial. With this, especially as I’ve started it, I sort of… I don’t know … I feel committed to it.
It’s not hard to see where he’s coming from. The Harry Potter universe, from the prequels to the proper line-up, are home to some of the most obsessive fans on this planet, and a considerable portion of them have backed Yates’ vision of the beloved source material. The man makes tremendously entertaining movies with wondrous, even frightening images sprinkled throughout, and it’s pretty hard for anyone to walk away from such reliability. On the other hand, there are plenty of inventive directors who might take the series in exciting new directions, if fans are willing to take the chance that it either will not fit with what their idea of the series is or that it is, inarguably, bad. It’s a deeply fascinating quandary, one that Hollywood on the whole has struggled with for quite some time.