Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (film)

Fantastic Beasts and
Where to Find Them

Theatrical release poster
Directed by David Yates
Produced by
Written by J. K. Rowling
Based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
by J. K. Rowling
Music by James Newton Howard
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Edited by Mark Day
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • 10 November 2016 (2016-11-10) (New York City)
  • 18 November 2016 (2016-11-18) (United Kingdom & United States)
Running time
133 minutes[1]
  • United Kingdom
  • United States[2][3]
Language English
Budget $180 million[4]
Box office $607.9 million[5]

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a 2016 fantasy film directed by David Yates and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures. A prequel of the Harry Potter film series, the film was produced and written by J. K. Rowling, in her screenwriting debut, and inspired by her book of the same name. The film stars Eddie Redmayne as Newt Scamander with Katherine Waterston, Dan Fogler, Alison Sudol, Ezra Miller, Samantha Morton, Jon Voight, Carmen Ejogo, Ron Perlman and Colin Farrell in supporting roles. It is the first instalment in the Fantastic Beasts series, and the ninth overall in J. K. Rowling's Wizarding World.

Principal photography began at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden on 17 August 2015. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them premiered in New York City on 10 November 2016 and was released worldwide on 18 November 2016 in 3D, IMAX 4K Laser and other large format theatres. It received generally positive reviews from critics and has grossed $609 million worldwide.


In 1926, British wizard Newt Scamander arrives by boat to New York City en route to Arizona. He encounters Mary Lou Barebone, a non-magical woman ("No-Maj" or "muggle") who heads the New Salem Philanthropic Society, which claims that witches and wizards are real and dangerous. As Newt listens to her speak, a Niffler escapes from his magically-expanded suitcase, which houses multiple magical creatures. As he attempts to capture it, he meets No-Maj cannery worker and aspiring baker Jacob Kowalski and they accidentally swap suitcases. Demoted Auror Tina Goldstein arrests Newt for being an unregistered wizard and takes him to the Magical Congress of the United States of America (MACUSA) headquarters, hoping to regain her former position. However, President Seraphina Picquery and Director of the Magical Security Percival Graves dismiss the case. At Jacob's apartment, several creatures escape from Newt's suitcase.

Graves approaches Credence Barebone, Mary Lou's adopted son, and offers to free him from his abusive mother in exchange for his finding the host of an Obscurus, a dark, destructive force inadvertently manifested by young magical children forced to conceal their powers. The force can be unleashed during periods of anger and stress; Graves believes that it has caused several mysterious destructive incidents around the city.

After Tina and Newt find Jacob and the suitcase, Tina takes them to her apartment and introduces them to Queenie, her Legilimens sister. Queenie and Jacob are mutually attracted, though American wizards are forbidden to marry No-Majs or interact with them. Newt takes Jacob inside his magically-expanded suitcase, where Jacob encounters a contained Obscurus that Newt recently extracted from a girl who died. Newt persuades Jacob to help search for the missing creatures. After re-capturing two of the three escaped beasts, they re-enter the suitcase, which Tina takes to MACUSA. Officials arrest them, believing one of Newt's beasts to be responsible for killing Senator Henry Shaw Jr., and decide to destroy Newt's suitcase and obliviate Jacob's memory. Graves interrogates Newt and Tina and accuses Newt of conspiring with the infamous dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald. Newt and Tina are immediately sentenced to death, but they escape and meet up with Queenie and Jacob; the foursome then capture the last of the creatures after receiving a tip from the goblin gangster Gnarlack.

Credence finds a wand under his adopted sister Modesty's bed. Mary Lou assumes the wand is Credence's, but Modesty claims it is hers. When she is about to be punished, the Obscurus is unleashed, killing everyone except Modesty and Credence. Graves arrives and dismisses Credence as being a Squib (a non-magical person of wizard ancestry), and refuses to tutor him in magic after they enter Modesty's biological family's home. Credence then reveals himself as the host of the Obscurus, the real cause of Shaw's death, and unleashes it upon the city in a rage.

In a subway tunnel, Newt talks to Credence but is attacked by Graves. Tina, who knows Credence, arrives and attempts to calm him, while Graves tries to convince Credence to listen to him instead. As Credence begins to settle into human form, Picquery arrives with Aurors and decides Credence's life must be forfeited to keep the existence of magic hidden. The Aurors apparently disintegrate him, but Newt notices a tiny wisp of the Obscurus fleeing. Graves admits to unleashing the Obscurus to expose the magical community to the No-Majs, and angrily claims that MACUSA protects the No-Majs more than themselves. He repels the Aurors but is subdued by one of Newt's beasts and revealed to be Gellert Grindelwald in disguise. Grindelwald is then taken into custody by MACUSA Aurors.

MACUSA fears it is too late to protect their secret world, but Newt releases his Thunderbird to disperse a potion over the city via a downpour that will erase all New Yorkers' recent memories. MACUSA wizards repair the destruction, and Jacob reluctantly agrees to let himself be obliviated as well. Queenie kisses Jacob goodbye as the rain erases his memories. Newt departs for Europe, but promises to return and visit Tina once he finishes his book; he also anonymously leaves Jacob a case of Occamy eggshells (made of silver), allowing Jacob to fulfil his dream of opening his own bakery. His breads and pastries are unknowingly inspired by Newt's creatures, and Queenie visits him in his shop.


Director David Yates and the cast of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at the 2016 San Diego Comic Con International.



Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is mentioned several times as a school textbook in the Harry Potter book series, although Scamander himself does not appear in any of the books. In 2001 Rowling published an edition of the "textbook" to be sold to raise money for the British charity Comic Relief. The book is a directory of magical creatures written with an introduction by its author Newt Scamander; it does not contain a storyline narrative. (In literature, the creation of such a long work not part of a novel's narrative storyline is known as a false document.[21])

First announced in September 2013, the project marks Rowling's debut as a screenwriter.[22] The film sees the return of producer David Heyman, as well as writer Steve Kloves, both veterans of the Potter film franchise.[23] After Alfonso Cuarón declined involvement,[24][25] Warner Bros. announced that David Yates would direct at least the first instalment of a planned trilogy.[26] James Newton Howard was contracted to compose the score.[27]


Eddie Redmayne was cast in the lead role of Newt Scamander, the Wizarding World's pre-eminent magizoologist, in June 2015.[6] Matt Smith and Nicholas Hoult were also considered.[28][29] Alison Sudol, in her feature film debut, and Katherine Waterston were subsequently chosen to play the witch sisters Queenie and Tina.[7][10] Ezra Miller and Colin Farrell joined the cast as the wizards Credence and Graves,[11][14] while comedian Dan Fogler was cast as Jacob, a non-magical person whom Newt befriends.[13] Following thousands of auditions in an open casting call, ten-year-old Faith Wood-Blagrove was chosen for the part of Modesty.[18] Jenn Murray signed on to star as Chastity,[19] and Samantha Morton was cast as Mary Lou.[15] Jon Voight, Gemma Chan, Carmen Ejogo and Ron Perlman were cast in unnamed roles.[16][17]

Michael Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore in six of the eight Harry Potter films, was desperate to appear in the spin-off.[30]


Principal photography on the film commenced on 17 August 2015, at Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden.[12][15][31][32] Several scenes were also shot on location in London.[33] After two months, the production moved to St George's Hall in Liverpool, which was transformed into 1920s New York City.[34] Framestore in London produced the visual effects for the film.[35]


On 9 April 2016, it was announced that James Newton Howard would write and compose the film's score.[36] On 24 October, Pottermore published an official first look at the film's main theme composed by Howard.[37] The main theme incorporated John Williams' themes from earlier films, such as Hedwig's Theme.[38] The soundtrack was released by WaterTower Music on 18 November 2016.[39]


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them held its world premiere at Alice Tully Hall in New York City on 10 November 2016. The film was released worldwide on 18 November 2016, in 2D, 3D and the new IMAX 4K Laser system.[6][40] It would premiere one day earlier in a number of other countries, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Germany and Italy, on 17 November. The film will be released in a total of 1,028 IMAX screens worldwide (388 screens in the United States and Canada, 347 screens in China, 26 screens in Japan and 267 screens in other countries). This marked the second time – after Doctor Strange – that a film secured a release in over 1,000 IMAX screens worldwide.[41][42]


A "story pack" based on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was released for the video game Lego Dimensions by WB Games and TT Games. The pack includes a constructible model of MACUSA, figures of Newt Scamander and a Niffler, and a six-level game campaign that adapts the film's events. The pack was released on the same day as the film, alongside a "fun pack" containing figures of Tina Goldstein and a Swooping Evil. The cast of the film reprises their roles in the game.


On 4 November 2015, Entertainment Weekly released the first official publicity shots of the film, containing pictures of characters Newt, Tina, and Queenie, and production and filming being held in various sets designed to mirror 1920's New York City. On 10 December 2015, it was announced that an "announcement trailer" would be released five days later, on 15 December.[43] Along with the one-minute trailer, a teaser poster was released.[44][45]

During "A Celebration of Harry Potter" at Universal Orlando Resort in February 2016, a featurette was released showcasing several interviews with various cast and crew members, as well as the first official behind-the-scenes footage.

Rowling has also released four pieces of writing exclusively as an introduction to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, titled History of Magic in North America. It includes information about scourers, brutal and violent magical mercenaries who played a big role in the historic Salem witch trials of the 1600s, as well as info about various American wand makers, the role magic played in World War One, Native American magic, the foundation of MACUSA, the way No-Maj/Wizarding segregation was enforced brutally after a violent and terrifying breach of the international statute of secrecy and the institution of Rappaports Law, and life in 1920's Wizarding America, with info about Wand Permits and Prohibition.

On 10 April 2016, the first "teaser trailer" was released during the MTV Movie Awards.[46]

On 26 April 2016, it was announced that the film's script will be released in the form of a book on 19 November.[47]

More visual publicity for the film was released at CineEurope and VidCon on 23 June. A new featurette entitled "A New Hero" was released later in the day, and a well received test screening was held in Chicago at the end of July, with viewers praising the complex plot line, the emotion, and the darkness at the heart of the story.

A third Art-Deco/German Expressionist-style poster was revealed at Comic-Con. Interactive wand stations have appeared at both VidCon and Comic-Con conventions. A new trailer for the film was unveiled at Warner Bros.' Comic-Con Hall H panel shortly after an interview with members of the cast. A quick-to-sell-out signing took place shortly thereafter.

Rowling released a second part to her History of Magic in North America series, entitled "Ilvermorny School of Witchcraft and Wizardry," which details the founding of the preeminent American Wizarding academy and allows users to sort themselves into one of the four houses of the school. The school is mentioned in the film.

On 10 August, more information and publicity shots for the film were released through Entertainment Weekly, with new information on Ezra Miller's character Credence Barebone and the news that Zoe Kravitz would have a role in the series. New images released include the quartet running down a New York City alleyway, David Yates chatting to stars Katherine Waterston and Eddie Redmayne on the set in front of a blown out Subway station, Colin Farrell's character Percival Graves interrogating an arrested and handcuffed Newt, and Graves and Credence putting up anti-magic propaganda.

Beginning in the month of September, more news was released on the various tie-in books being released for the film. On 28 September, the final trailer for the film officially premiered via EllenTube, quickly becoming the most viewed film trailer of the year to date. Not long after, an announcement was made that a global fan event would be held in London and Los Angeles, as well as a number of other cities worldwide, on 13 October. A live Q&A was held and more new footage from the film was revealed. Visitors were treated to the first seven minutes of the film and were also invited to stay for the first film of the Harry Potter franchise in IMAX, the start of a marketing push that saw all 8 films return to IMAX theatres internationally for one week leading up to the release of Fantastic Beasts. Due to demand, the fan event was expanded to a number of other US and international locations.


Box office

As of 4 December 2016, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them has grossed $183.5 million in the USA and Canada and $424.4 million in other countries, for a worldwide total of $607.9 million.[5] The film was made on a budget of $180 million, with an additional $150 million spent on marketing.[4][48] Its box office prospects (the first film as well as the remaining four) have been compared to that of The Hobbit trilogy (especially the first instalment), a spin-off of The Lord of the Rings film series and Maleficent.[49][50][51] Warner Bros. also used Doctor Strange as comparison in some markets given its similar release timeframe.[50] Worldwide, the film grossed $219.9 million during its opening weekend from around 64 markets in 24,200 screens, both the fifth biggest in Rowling's wizarding cinematic universe and the fifth-biggest of the year and the seventh-biggest of the month of November.[52][53] IMAX totalled $15 million from 605 screens.[41]

Fantastic Beasts went on general release in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 18 November 2016. It debuted with £15.33 million ($19.15 million) from 666 cinemas, the biggest debut of any film this year, ahead of the two previous record holders, Captain America: Civil War (£14.47 million) and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (£14.62 million) and also the biggest opening market for the film. The film benefited largely from sold out multiplexes, with Warners reporting that the film occupied about 1,900 screens within those 666 venues.[41][54] Compared to the Harry Potter films, its debut is significantly down on most, although previews complicate comparisons. Minus previews, Fantastic Beasts posted the third best opening, behind only Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (£18.32 million) and Part 2 (£23.77 million), unadjusted for ticket price inflation.[54]

In the United States and Canada, tracking had the film grossing $68–85 million in its opening weekend, with some estimates going as high as $100 million. The film was released on 18 November in 4,143 cinemas, of which 388 were IMAX screens, and over 3,600 were showing the film in 3D.[55][56][57][58][59][60] It grossed $29.7 million on its first day, the second-lowest opening day among Rowling's adaptations (behind the $29.6 million Friday of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets).[61] This included $8.75 million it earned from Thursday night preview screenings beginning at 6 pm in 3,700 cinemas, which was well below the midnight preview grosses for the last few Harry Potter sequels.[62] In total, the film earned $74.4 million in its opening weekend, falling in line with projections and finishing first at the box office, but recorded the lowest opening among Rowling's Harry Potter universe.[52][63] In IMAX plays, it made $8 million from 388 IMAX screens, the third best debut for a Rowling title in the format after Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2. Around $9 million, equivalent to 12% of the weekend gross came from 500 premium large format locations. And finally, in Cinemark XD, it earned an estimated $1.75 million or 20% of the total PLF gross.[52]

The film's opening was considered a hit taking into account how it was not based on a popular existing source unlike the Harry Potter franchise and the film itself was void of the main character, Harry Potter.[48] It was the top choice among moviegoers, representing 47% of the weekend's total $157.6 million tickets sales.[64]

Following its robust opening weekend, the film earned $6.76 million on its first Monday buoyed by 32% K-12 schools off, and 13% colleges being on break according to ComScore, lifting its four-day total to $81.2 million.[65] The Monday gross was a drop of 63.4% from its $18.49 million Sunday gross which is quite normal even for a tentpole film since it's no longer a weekend. It earned more on its first Monday than the first two Harry Potter movies despite those films opening with over/under $90 million debut weekends.[66] On Tuesday, it rose to $9.3 million, an increase of 38% – the biggest jump in Rowling's cinematic universe in terms of percentage.[67] It passed the $100 million mark in six days.[68] On its second Friday, it witnessed a gradual drop of 37% ($18.5 million) from last Friday, the second best Friday drop for any Harry Potter film, behind The Sorcerer's Stone. This was in part due to Black Friday, the most lucrative day of the Thanksgiving Day stretch.[69] It ended up grossing $45.1 million in its second weekend (a drop of just 39.4%), finishing 2nd at the box office.[70]

Outside North America, the film debuted day-and-date in 63 countries, along with its North American release, where it was projected to gross $90–125 million in its opening weekend.[71][72] It opened 16 November 2016, in 9 countries, earning $6.9 million from 5,070 screens.[50][73] It opened in 38 more countries on 18 November, earning $16.6 million for a total of $23.5 million in two days.[50] In three days, it made $53.6 million.[74] Through Sunday, 20 November, the film had a five-day opening weekend of $145.5 million from 63 countries, which is way above the initial projections and ahead of the debuts of Maleficent, The Jungle Book and each of the three instalments in The Hobbit trilogy. However, a direct comparison is not possible as the number of markets varied between all films with Fantastic Beasts securing the most territories.[41] It earned another $132 million in its second weekend after a robust debut in China and Japan.[42]

It recorded the biggest opening day of all-time among the Harry Potter franchise in Korea ($1.7 million), the UAE ($429,000) and Ukraine, the second biggest in Mexico ($1.8 million), Russia and the CIS ($1.7 million), Brazil ($1.3 million) and in Indonesia ($480,000), all behind Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and the third biggest in the United Kingdom ($5.4 million), behind Part 1 and Part 2.[50] It also scored the second biggest Warner Bros. opening of all-time in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.[50] Notably, France opened with $1.8 million, Australia with $1.6 million, Spain with $1.4 million, and Germany with $1 million ($2 million including paid previews).[50] In terms of opening weekend, the film posted the biggest opening among the Harry Potter franchise in 16 markets, including South Korea ($14.2 million, also the third-biggest opening for the studio), Russia ($9.8 million) and Brazil ($6.4 million), the biggest opener of the year in Germany ($10.2 million), Sweden, Belgium and Switzerland and the biggest Warner Bros. debut in those along with France ($10.2 million), Holland and Denmark. Italy debuted with $6.6 million, the biggest for a U.S. film in the country. In other markets – where it didn't necessarily set records – Australia opened with $7.4 million, followed by Mexico ($5.8 million) and Spain ($4.5 million).[41] South Korea's opening was worth $14.2 million from 1.94 million admissions between Wednesday and Sunday and accounted for 68% of the total weekend box office.[75]

It opened in China on November 25 alongside Disney's animated Moana but didn't face significant competition from it. It earned $11.2 million on its opening day from 11,600 screens (per Warner Bros.), the best among the Rowlings cinematic universe.[76][77] In total, it delivered an opening weekend of $41.1 million (per Warner Bros.) and $39.1 million (per Entgroup), dominating 60% of the top five films with 70,000 screenings per day. This alone surpassed the entire lifetime total of all Harry Potter films save the last one.[42][78] Similarly in Japan – typically the biggest or second biggest market for the previous Harry Potter instalments – it debuted with $15.5 million, besting the total lifetime of all the previous films except for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Deathly Hallows – Part 2.[42]

The film also set quite a number of IMAX records in numerous markets. In total, the opening weekend was worth $7 million from 276 screens, which is the second-highest ever in the Wizarding World, behind Deathly Hallows – Part 2. In 33 territories, it opened at number one. Moreover, it's also the third highest-grossing November international IMAX opening ever, and the No. 1 start for IMAX in November in 19 countries including Japan ($1.1 million), the UK, Russia, Germany, and the Netherlands.[41] In China, it had the biggest IMAX opening among the franchise with $5.1 million from 347 IMAX screens.[42] Overall, the film has earned a global cumulative total of $19.1 million from the format.[42]

It has become the highest-grossing film in Rowling's cinematic universe in Russia ($16.7 million) and the second-highest in South Korea ($24.6 million). China ($41.1 million) the United Kingdom ($37.6 million), followed by Germany ($18.4 million), and France ($16.7 million) are the film's biggest earning markets.[42]

Critical response

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 75% based on 240 reviews, with an average rating 6.8/10. The site's consensus states that the film "draws on Harry Potter's rich mythology to deliver a spinoff that dazzles with franchise-building magic all its own".[79] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating to reviews, the film has a score 66 out of 100, based on reviews from 50 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[80] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, the sixth film in the Harry Potter universe to receive such a grade.[81]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film five out of five stars, hailing it as "a rich, baroque, intricately detailed entertainment" and a "terrifically good-natured, unpretentious and irresistibly buoyant film."[82] IndieWire's Eric Kohn gave the film a B+ saying that it "delivers the most satisfying period fantasy since Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street," and that its layers of sophistication made it one of the best Hollywood blockbusters of the year.[83]

Mike Ryan of Uproxx gave the film a positive review, writing, "Newt Scamander is nothing like Harry, but it has to be this way. It all has to be different. And it is, but, again, with just enough 'sameness' to make us feel like we are at home again. I'm looking forward to wherever these movies are taking us."[84] John DeFore of The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the film is "likely to draw in just about everyone who followed the Potter series and to please most of them."[85]


List of awards and nominations
Award Date of ceremony Category Recipient(s) Result Ref(s)
Critics Choice Awards December 11, 2016 Best Art Direction Stuart Craig, James Hambidge and Anna Pinnock Pending [86]
Best Costume Design Colleen Atwood Pending
Best Hair and Makeup Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Pending
Best Visual Effects Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Pending
Teen Choice Awards July 31, 2016 Choice AnTEENcipated Movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Nominated [87]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association December 5, 2016 Best Art Direction Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock Pending [88]

Planned sequels

Initially, in October 2014, the studio announced the film would be the start of a trilogy. The second instalment is set to be released on 16 November 2018, followed by the third on 20 November 2020.[89][90][91] In July 2016, David Yates confirmed that Rowling had written the screenplay for the second film and has ideas for the third.[92] However, in October 2016 Rowling confirmed that the series would comprise five films.[93] In November 2016, it was announced that Johnny Depp was cast to co-star in an undisclosed role, and was revealed to have a cameo in the first film.[94] A week later, he was confirmed to be playing Gellert Grindelwald, and will have a starring role in the sequel.[95] The second film will take place in the UK and Paris.[96]


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