With “Hedwig’s Theme” in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, composer John Williams crafted the soundtrack for a generation. He would build and refine the themes established in that score for a further two films, but the signature, downright magical themes established in Sorcerer’s Stone have endured and will go down in history as one of the iconic pieces of movie music (alongside Williams’ 73 other pieces of iconography). And so, when it came time to tackle the score for a new installment in the Wizarding World universe, it was a tall order. Now, with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them set for release in November, Warner Bros. has offered a first-listen to the film’s main theme—which, if all goes according to plan, will endure for yet another franchise.
Director David Yates, the filmmaker behind the final four Potter films, tasked veteran composer James Newton Howard with crafting the score for Fantastic Beasts, which takes place in 1920s New York and revolves around magizoologist Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) and his misadventures. Scamander’s briefcase of fantastical creatures somehow breaks open, unleashing loads of monsters onto the streets of New York and putting into jeopardy strict American Wizarding World laws that forbid magicians from revealing themselves or the wizarding community to “no-maj” people.
Howard’s theme here begins with a short riff on “Hedwig’s Theme” before diving into its own skin, which is at once soaring and foreboding. Fantastic Beasts differs from Harry Potter in many ways, including the fact that it’s a story about adults, not kids. I’m curious to see if there’s a more sinister quality to the film and music’s tone to be found. Regardless, Howard is no stranger to massive franchises with work ranging from Batman Begins to The Hunger Games to Maleficent, so it’ll be interesting to see what he brings to the table here.
Take a listen to the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them theme below. The film also stars Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, Dan Fogler, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Carmen Ejogo, and Ron Perlman. Fantastic Beasts opens in theaters on November 18th.