From what we learned about J.K. Rowling's involvement in the development of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, there was a bit of a learning curve as she transitioned from novelist to screenwriter. But instead of losing time and material as she learned the ropes of translating notes into rewrites, it sounds like the author worked more quickly than expected, and produced more Fantastic content than could be used in the first movie.
J.K. Rowling was new to the screenwriting game when she took on the project of turning Newt Scamander's story into a major motion picture, but from what David Yates told us during our visit to the Fantastic Beasts set, she was more than up to the task. As Yates explains it, normally it takes a screenwriter months to take the notes given to them, and do the necessary rewrites. But not J.K. ("Jo") Rowling...
With Jo it's a sort of extraordinary process because she doesn't realize that's how it should work. So, you give Jo notes and then a week later you'll get a script. And I'll be like, whoa! Jo's just delivered a script-- after a week. And what she'll do is she'll kind of riff off notes and she'll create a whole new series of things within that screenplay, which take us off in all sorts of different tangents. So, she's like a sort of volcano of ideas.
And the process was really paring down, tuning, finding ultimately the form that would best become a movie. And she's a really quick learner so, pretty much after several months of that process she kind of got the form really, really quickly. And realized that it was about paring down and simplifying, rather than adding absolute new sequences and new ideas all the time. And there were things that were created in this process that will be used next time for the next movie or maybe the movie beyond that.
If there's a right side to the learning curve, it's not surprising that J.K. Rowling found it.
Unlike the Harry Potter movies, which were adaptations of J.K. Rowling's beloved novels, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them is an original story, set to introduce us to the fictional author of the titular text book, a reference guide of magical beasts and beings studied at Hogwarts. So, who better to pen the screenplay this time around, than Rowling herself? It's certainly a different approach to telling a story, but the author has proven more than willing to branch out of her comfort medium, as evidenced by the Harry Potter sequel, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, being released as a West End stage production (and later a script book).
Even back in December, it seemed likely that Fantastic Beasts 2 would probably happen, and Yates' comment -- made to us back in December, for reference -- suggests at least one more movie could come after that. That's not a huge surprise, since there's been talk of this being a trilogy since the beginning.
This is really a different game for J.K. Rowling, as the certainty of Fantastic Beasts' cinematic future is sure to depend in part on its box office success. Still, from what Yates told us late last year, it sounds like she's always thinking ahead when she's writing...
But I think in the process of writing it, she's already sort of working out what's coming next. She's already sort of planning what's coming next. Some of which she shared with us this week, in fact. She told us what the first act is for the next movie effectively. And so, she has things bubbling away in her head. But I don't think it's completely formed all the way through the arc. Where it may well be, she hasn't showed that. But she has certain things that are well established in her head that she's shared with us and some things, which I'm sure she's still figuring out.
Knowing that the first act for Fantastic Beasts 2 was already worked out back in December, we weren't surprised at all when news broke a couple of months ago that J.K. Rowling finished writing it. Nor is it surprising that she has ideas for Fantastic Beasts 3. And if the first film captures at least some of the Harry Potter magic (and the box office dollars), sequels seem like a given.
Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them hits theaters November 18, 2016