There are a lot of things that Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them has done right, as it's not only a severely entertaining film, it's also the product of a well put together marketing machine. But perhaps the greatest feather in the blockbuster hit's cap is the fact that it's done something we wish we could see more big ticket films do: they've released the finished shooting script to the public, via e-book and printed book versions that were published the day of the film's release. While this may not seem like a gigantic feat to most, it's certainly something we're enthusiastic about, and for several important reasons.
First off, being able to read a script helps relive the magic of the movie you've just seen not so long ago on the screen. In the case of Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, the journey of Newt Scamander through 1926 New York comes off the page and into our minds, reminding us of the visual thrills of David Yates' masterfully crafted film. While the eventual Blu-ray/DVD release will help in this area, the printed script helps satisfy the cravings for some magizoological action without having to go to the theater each time the mood strikes.
Second, being able to the read the script to Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them helps give the audience a better venue to truly appreciate the dialogue and story that J.K. Rowling created to usher an earlier era of her wizarding world into being. Seeing as Rowling is a best-selling and pretty well-renowned storyteller, the decision to publish her screenplay was a no-brainer since a collection of printed words with her name on it tend to sell quite well. Part of that is her marketability, and the other, more important, factor of that reputation is the fact that there are very few that can spin a yarn quite like Ms. Rowling can.
But perhaps the most important reason, the one we really want to go into detail about, is the fact that reading the script to any film, especially Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, allows the reader access to the most important component of any good screenplay: the stage direction. While the dialogue gets the point across, the subtleties of acting sometimes do not afford complete clarity of the words that are on the page. For instance, the big scene where baker Jacob Kowalski and witch/love interest Queenie Goldstein almost part ways before the film's climactic battle includes a moment of mind reading on Queenie's part.
While she seems wistful, due to the moment where they might end up having to say goodbye, there's more that lies beyond the surface of the moment. Upon reading the script to the film, we find out that Queenie saw much more in Jacob's mind, including his traumatic experiences in World War I. Jacob's experiences in "The Great War" were alluded to as he mentioned that he was part of the Expeditionary Forces in Europe, but we never get the full extent of his experience in combat. The moment still works brilliantly as is in the film, but having the extra detail helps add a layer of understanding of that moment, as well as the film on the whole.
J.K. Rowling's screenplay being available as a printed product separate from the film it spawned not only gives us a better appreciation of the expansion of the Harry Potter universe, it also got us to thinking about how cool it'd be to see more films release their scripts in printed format as well. Imagine being able to read the script to Deadpool, complete with smart-assed stage direction from Wade Wilson himself. Also, think about getting all of the internal background to the character motivations of Captain America: Civil War, or even being able to read an earlier, less scattered draft of Suicide Squad. No matter the film, being able to read the words and directions behind the action helps audiences take a big step back and better understand their favorite movies, or even movies that should have worked and why they didn't.
If you're interested in comparing the screenplay to the finished product, you can go see Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in theaters now, and then purchase the script for reading through this handy Amazon link.
CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.
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