Learn the Secrets Behind Fantastic Beasts

J.K. Rowling promised us Harry Potter’s story had ended following her play-turned-book Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth installment in the massively beloved series. She wasn’t kidding, but she never said she was done with the magical universe inhabited by her beloved characters. The new movie (and screenplay!) Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, adapted from the short Hogwarts textbook of the same name, follows magizoologist Newt Scamander on a series of adventures around 1920s New York City. It’s the first screenplay from the multitalented Rowling, and is directed by Potter veteran David Yates. Which is to say we have every reason to believe it will, indeed, be fantastic. Given that our obsession with the Potterverse continues unabated, it’s clear the movie won’t be quite enough. Fortunately, there are a series of books on the way that take you behind the scenes of the making of the film. These reads will appeal to everyone from long-time fans and adult cinephiles, to wee witches and wizards taking their first steps into a world of magic.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay, by J. K. Rowling
Consider this one a companion to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. That book came about as a way to bring the final(?) Potter story to the bookshelves of fans who may not be able to get tickets to a London theatrical production, and as a satisfyingly bookish way to complete the series for those of us reared on the novels. Likewise, the hardcover of Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts screenplay means readers get to enjoy the latest magical adventure in a form akin to the way we originally enjoyed Harry’s story. The thought of a new Potterverse story not somehow finding a spot on my bookshelf just feels wrong.

The Case of Beasts: Explore the Film Wizardry of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Mark Salisbury
This book was designed by the same team that created the graphic props for all the Harry Potter films as well as for Beasts, and the feel of the book is similar to that of Newt Scamander’s case (it even latches closed). Except, instead of containing magical beasts (because, you know, illegal), the book contains a plethora of information, photography, and art related to the new movie. Because the emphasis is on the movie’s graphic design, the book is filled with removable prop replicas and ephemera, providing insight into both the moviemaking and the magical world it depicts.

Inside the Magic: The Making of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Ian Nathan
For the grownup cinephile (or younger cinephiles-in-training), this companion book goes into deep and extensive detail about the making of Rowling’s new film. The actors provide insight into their characters and process, but the book also covers things like set design, costuming, props, and the like, along with stories from the people who worked on the film. If you’re interested in more than just story and characters, there’s plenty here to appreciate, and a lot to learn about the craft, hard work, and magic of filmmaking.

The Art of the Film: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, by Dermot Power
I love stuff like this: for every bit of magic on the screen in a film like Fantastic Beasts, there are dozens of sketches, concepts, blueprints, and paintings that made it all come together. The images in this handsome coffee table book show the origins of some of the most impressive moments in the movie. More than that, they detail a progression of ideas, alongside input from the artists themselves. Since concepts don’t always make it to the screen whole, or at all, it’s always fascinating to see the ways in which things develop. Given Beasts‘ magical 1920s New York/steampunk aesthetic, you can expect to see some truly amazing art.

Magical Movie Handbook (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), by Michael Kogge
You could describe this as a book for younger fans, but if Rowling’s work has taught us anything, it’s that those distinctions are a little silly. So I’ll just say that the reading level skews a little younger, and will appeal to fans who are most interested in the actual story of the movie. This is a handy reference guide to some of the characters, locations, and scenes featured in the movie, and a pretty great way to relive the magic if you just can’t get enough of the film.

Character Guide (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), by Michael Kogge
Not unlike the Magical Movie Handbook, this is similarly an all-ages guide to the movie, but focused specifically on the film’s characters. People like eccentric main character Newt Scamander, witch Tina Goldstein, sidekick Jacob Kowalski, and all the rest of Rowling’s magical (and no-maj) creations get illustrated profiles. It’s another great way to relive the magic and learn some new stuff about the film’s players that you might have missed. Plus, this isn’t the last time that we’ll be seeing this particular group of wizards and their friends (and foes), so it’ll be good to have on hand for the future.

Fashion Sketchbook (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them)
Fantastic Beasts boasts an impressive and brilliantly designed look inspired by steampunk but matched to the look and feel of jazz-age New York City. Oscar winning costume designer Colleen Atwood gave unique looks to each character while tying everything together with that particular style. This book provides budding fashionistas (or those of us who just like to doodle) a way to draw and color some of the clothes, shoes, and accessories worn by characters in the film offers inspiration on creating one’s own, even more fabulous, designs.

Coloring and Creativity Book (Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), by Liz Marsham
Let’s be real: Rowling’s magical stories aren’t just for kids, nor is coloring. This is another book that’s aimed at kids, and, OK, they should get to have some fun, too. But this one should be fun for fans of any age: it’s a combination coloring and activity book with images to draw, doodle, and color, as well as including other activities. Pro-tip: if you can snag one before you go to the movies, you and the kids (or just you) can work on it while you’re waiting on line.

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  • Bob Jarvis

    I’m not much of a movie goer or a Potter-head, but I have three kids who’ve read all the books and have a tendency to discuss them At Length so I’ve gained at least a passing familiarity with the Potterverse, in self defense if for no other reason. On Thanksgiving the youngest wanted to see “Fantastic Beasts…” and so my wife, our youngest daughter (14), and myself went to see it, while the older two (who’ve apparently temporarily “outgrown” these stories – funny how that works… 🙂 went to see a different something else.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this film. J.K.Rowling has shown us another view of her pet universe, and it’s as entertaining and engrossing as the Harry Potter series. The richness of details, the unplumbed depths which we’re given only a glimpse of, promise that not only is *this* a good story, but that there is a lot of room for this story to develop, twist, turn, and take us on a wild ride in subsequent tales. Our daughter was happy to chatter about how there’d be five movies in this series, and wasn’t even slightly dismayed when I pointed out that if they came out every two years she’d be about done with college by the time she got to see the last one. I suppose that if paying for her college education is the price for getting more information on the adventures of Mr. Scamander and company, it’ll be well worth it.
    Thank you, Ms. Rowling. Now – GET BUSY!!!! 🙂

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