There was a constant, every time a new Harry Potter movie rolled along. Audiences and fans knew that they would return to Hogwarts for another year of schooling, creating a rhythm and an air of comfort and familiarity that worked extremely well for that story. Fantastic Beasts is quite different, though. Because the movies aren't tied to a school setting -- or an existing volume of beloved books -- J.K. Rowling and her collaborators, producer David Heyman and director David Yates, are truly free to explore the global wizarding community, taking magic to the world's stage in exciting new ways. In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Newt Scamander went on an adventure in the United States. But as we head into The Crimes of Grindelwald, Heyman recently told CinemaBlend that the new location he can't wait for fans of these stories to see is the French Ministry of Magic, which at the time of our visit was being called Le Ministère des Affaires Magiques de la France. Says Heyman:
I think the French Ministry is pretty bloody beautiful. I think it's one of Stuart [Craig]'s most beautiful sets. I think a lot of it will be augmented in the digital space, but the detail, the filigree... and also, just from a practical point of view, how it's been multipurpose. Because we go into different parts of the French Ministry, and we've had to repurpose one set for different levels and different things -- and how flexible it is. ... From a visual point of view, it feels very French, and extraordinary magical.
Which is what you want your French Ministry of Magic to feel like! During a walkthrough of the movie's elaborate plot, The Crimes of Grindelwald Art Director Martin Foley told us of the inspirations for the French Ministry, which, by the way, exists underground. Foley told CinemaBlend:
All Jo [Rowling] said in the script was that it was this kind of nouveau building, and underground. And the problem with being underground is, there's no light. And nouveau is all about light and nature and these beautiful kinds of organic shapes. And when you're underground it's just like a big cave, you know? And so Stuart [Craig] decided to ignore pretty much the fact it was underground. He's put it underground, but it has a glass roof, and it's kind of a magical glass roof. There are all these domes and it's very similar to the gardens. There's a building in Paris it's quite similar to. But on the domes, there are projections of magical creatures being projected around. And we sculpted all of these beautiful statues.
And we are able to back up David Heyman and Martin Foley's claims, as the practical set for the Le Ministère des Affaires Magiques de la France was one of the builds that CinemaBlend was able to tour while visiting the production of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, and it was a majestic location. Massive, even, with arched floors and towering file cabinets that moved around -- either by magic, or by the magic of filmmaking -- to create a sense of constant motion and flow.
One thing that might not be perceptible in the finished cut of the film, though, is the amount of detail that is found on a set like the Le Ministère des Affaires Magiques de la France. As we walked around at look at desks in the offices, they were littered with paperwork that had details about wizards, Muggles, case files that locations that had nothing to do with the story in question, and probably wouldn't be seen by David Yates' camera. And yet, the production team goes to those lengths to paint in the lines, developing this world with rich textures and details. It's exquisite.
The Ministry does show up in the latest trailer for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, so give that a look:
And know that this is but one of many new original locations that fans will visit when the globetrotting adventure of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) continues on November 16.