Author J K Rowling revealed the Fantastic Beasts franchise was a happy “accident” at the first film’s premiere in London yesterday (15th November) after she "couldn't let" the Harry Potter world "go".
Rowling told the BBC: “[Creating the films] was unbelievable, but what’s weird was I never aspired to this. This was an added extra. This exists because I couldn’t let the story go. Warner Bros wanted to do something with Newt so I thought I’d better give them what I’ve got.”
She added: "I feel like the most fortunate person in the world. I get to do what I love all the time. It's amazing."
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, which goes out on general release on Friday (18th November), is the first of five films based on a 2001 film of the same name. The story focuses on Newt Scamander, a “magizoologist” who in the first film goes to New York.
Rowling said she has a general idea about the story arc of the five films. “I know what my end point is, I know who lives and who dies, but I don’t know absolutely every detail,” she said.
The film has so far received mostly positive reviews. Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian gave it five stars, saying: “That entertainment enchanter J K Rowling has come storming back to the world of magic in a shower of supernatural sparks - and created a glorious fantasy-romance adventure, all about the wizards of prohibition-era America and the diffident wizarding Brit who causes chaos in their midst with a bagful of exotic creatures."
Bradshaw added: “The Beasts movies may actually make clearer Rowling’s under-discussed debt to Roald Dahl. They also show that her universe with its exotic fauna is in the best way, a cousin to that of George Lucas.”
The Telegraph, which gave a four star review, said the film is “immaculately cast”, singling out Eddie Redmayne, who stars as Newt. “Exhibit A is Redmayne, whose Newt doesn’t feel like any other personality in Potteriana: from his bashfulness to his stammer and gloriously impractical fringe, he’s a sore thumb in a cobalt greatcoat, and his company’s addictive."
However, Time magazine was less complimentary. It said: "There’s so much going on in Fantastic Beasts that after the first act, you almost can’t be bothered to care what happens next. In the movie’s world, there’s a magical explanation for everything, which means story logic too often gets left by the wayside.”
The magazine praised the “dazzling special effects” but said in the film is in the end “only dragon food, a product conceived to deliver more, more, more of something that audiences are hungry for”.
The full script of the screenplay will be published tomorrow by Little, Brown Book Group. Several other publishers are releasing tie-in titles, including HarperCollins and Scholastic, but Bloomsbury has withdrawn its original edition of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, angering booksellers. A new edition will be published next year.