New Rowling Twitter Header: What Is It? Are We Off to China in ‘Beasts3’?

Just in time for Orthodox Nativity and Western Epiphany, Rowling switched out her Twitter header on 7 January but kept the same cameo picture. What is the exotic location pictured? “Let me google that for you, Dad,” as a daughter likes to say when I ask easily searchable questions.

Google Image Search says it is Zhangjiajie, specifically Wulingyan Scenic and Historic Area, a ‘AAAAA’ Scenic Site. The grading for scenic sites is a lot like that used in Mr Scamander’s Fantastic Beasts for the relative danger of the various creatures.

Options off the top of my head:

(a) This picture was taken while returning Crimes of Grindelwald Chinese Beast, the Zouwu, back to the wild after filming;

(b) It is a snapshot from a Family trip to a Rowling Inc. Sneaker Factory (which explains her twitter silence for two weeks);

(c) Forget Rio; in Beasts3 we’re going to 1930’s China, before it became Communist after Mao’s Long March;

(d) It’s actually Meteora on a foggy day (so much for Google search);

(e) The picture is of pilings on the Moors of Scotland where Cormoran Strike will learn that it was Lucy’s father who killed Leda, forget Rokeby;

(F) is for Fjord — it’s a Rosmersholm picture?

So far, the speculation online seems to be running for options (a) and (c), that we’re off to China to return the Zouwu we met in Crimes of Grindelwald to its native habitat. As much as I’m hoping it is (e), I think that the road trip to China is a pretty good guess for these three reasons: [Read more…]

Crimes of Grindelwald: The Story Ring

I spent International Chiasmus Day looking over my Crimes of Grindelwald charts and lecture notes about Tolkien’s The Hobbit as ring composition when I learned yesterday was also JRRT’s birthday. I flipped a hermetic coin this morning about which notes to write up as a short post here and the alchemical token came up ‘Phoenix’ rather than ‘Dragon’ — I read a brilliant paper draft on those two beasts last night by Lana Whited, too, that will change your thinking about Fantastic Beasts if you’re anything like me — so it’s the ring of Crimes today!

This will be the briefest of exposition, though, because the full version, charts and all, will be included in my online course the updated and expanded version of which is in queue for registration early in the New Year. Having said that, let’s have a look at the second film in the Fantastic Beasts five movie franchise and see if we can spot the story latch, which is to say, where and how the beginning and end hook up, the story turn, the scenes in which we end the beginning and start the end with echo and pointers to both respectively, and the story parallels, the ‘turtleback lines’ moving to and from the center in which the screenwriter creates corresponding in reverse order after the story pivot in chiastic fashion, A-B-C-D-C’-B’-A’, where the A’s are the latch, D is the turn, and B and C are the parallels.

The story latch is two-fold. First there is the Grindelwald’s escape epilogue, scenes 1 to 16 in the Original Screenplay that is not ‘Original’ but pretty much a transcript of the director’s cut (hereafter just ‘the screenplay’), and the Hogwarts/Nurmengard epilogue, scenes 116-120.  [Read more…]

Crimes of Grindelwald: Box Office Score

Good news and bad news about the performance of Crimes of Grindelwald at the box office in the US and overseas! Forbes magazine reports:

In other arbitrary milestones, Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald has now earned $611m worldwide on a $200m budget. This is a decent-enough total, down a reasonable 25% from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’s $814m but 33% below the last film’s $232m domestic cume.

If it wasn’t the second of a five-part franchise, I’d be less concerned about the future. But maybe Fantastic Beasts 3 will be a big improvement and the fans will give it a second chance.

The bad news is fairly obvious. This was the weakest performance by a Warner Brothers ‘Wizarding World’ franchise film ever. The controversies about Johnny Depp, the assertion that ‘Gay Dumbledore’ was undeniably in evidence in Beasts 2 and that the Pensieve of Erised moments reflected a sexual relationship between two men, and the multitude of not quite meshing subplots on top of scene cuts by the director (who thinks he gets story-telling better than this screenwriter?) may have dulled enthusiasm among the Potter faithful in the United States, at least. Or a host of other reasons. Let the speculation and blame-casting begin!

Rowling and Company by their shouting out ‘Impeach Trump!’ at fan conventions and The Presence on her twitter feed, telling those offended by their refusal to dump Depp (because of the accusations of his using violence against his ex-wife) to take a hike, and the huzzahs for gay sex from Ezra Miller in a country where a significant population is not on that bandwagon means they managed somehow to offend right, left, and center. Earnings are down. Folks may not want political correctness or indifference mixed in with their magical movies. Surprise!

That said, the good news in this earnings report is just as obvious. The film turned a profit in the vicinity of 400 million US dollars. They’re not packing up shop because the film ‘bombed’ relative to other Rowling franchise movies. Only the Marvel Universe and Harry Potter films have to break a billion dollars before going to DVD to be considered a success. 611 million dollars pays a lot of bills. We’re going to get five films even if the next two also lose 25% globally and 33% domestic.

As the Forbes reviewer noted with “maybe Fantastic Beasts 3 will be a big improvement,” all Team Wizarding World has to do to return to billion dollar land may be to make a less confusing movie and stop shooting themselves in the foot by making the films a referendum on social justice, the US President, and sexual adventurism. More Tina-Loves-Newt, less Albus-Misses-Gellert-Who-Grooms-Credence? More Eddy, less Ezra?Rowling has already pledged that we will “get answers” in the next film; I’m guessing that means she’s been told to straighten out the mess David Yates made out of Crimes in the cutting room (and give him a more straight film — in the various senses of that word — to shoot).

Why do you think Crimes didn’t do nearly as well as Beasts1? Was it the content, the confusion of plots, the twist at the close, wizard fatigue, Paris, politics, or what? Click on the ‘Leave a Comment’ up by the headline and let me know your best guess.


Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Film)

Pillar Posts’ are round-ups and explanations of key ideas and texts that have been and continue to be discussed at HogwartsProfessor. With more than two thousand posts in our archives spread out over twelve years of blogging, we need an easily accessible file where serious readers can find — without hours of hunting — the articles they want to read. These Pillar Posts will find a home on the left sidebar of the HogwartsProfessor homepage and I’ll update them regularly.

Today I want to pull together what we’ve written here about the first film in the Fantastic Beasts franchise since its release in 2016.

It may seem irrelevant to revisit the first movie now that we have Crimes of Grindelwald but Fantastic Beasts 1: Newt Goes to New York will almost certainly be reflected in the third film and the finale, Beasts 5. As we’ve seen in Harry Potter and the Cormoran Strike mysteries, Rowling writes her series in rings, a structure that features an axis bisecting the story circle that connects first-middle-and-final parts (for a five film package, that means 1-3-5).

I focused most of my attention in 2016 on trying to come to something approximating Rowling’s final “shhoting script,” something that had to be recreated from the Heyman-Yates mish-mash of a movie, the published screenplay, and the many deleted scenes. As Rowling said Steve Kloves told her, the agony of making a movie out of a Rowling novel or script is “fitting the woman to the dress,” i.e., forcing the natural figure into the mechanical formula of blockbuster movies. I’ll let you judge how successful I was in sorting out and pasting in the scenes that we know were not included in the released movie.

Text-discovery was my focus but there was a lot more going on, from the MuggleNet Academia and Reading, Writing, Rowling podcasts to discussion of the movie’s ring structure and Christian content, not to mention the posts by Beatrice Groves, Wayne Stauffer, and HogwartsProfessor faculty Louise Freeman and Elizabeth Baird-Hardy. You can find it — close to forty posts! — all neatly organized just after the jump.

As with all of the Pillar Posts, please let me know if a link is not working or if I have inadvertently left out an article. Enjoy!

Unlocking Fantastic Beasts: Finding the Text 

Preface: ‘The Original Screenplay’ – Not the Shooting Script or Even a Faithful Movie Transcript (What the Movie Makers Changed or Left Out)

Preface 2: Comparing the Original Screenplay with the Actual Film: What the Film Makers Left Out, Changed, or Deleted (with Kelly Loomis)

Part 1: J. K. Rowling, Screenwriter — Who is Working for Whom?

Part 5A: So What? The Found Text and Its Meaning

Part 5B: The Shooting Script — A Corrected Text for Serious Readers

Part 5C: Conclusions and Predictions

Interpretation and Speculation: Ring Structure, Christian Content, Elder Wand, Etc.


Louise Freeman’s Fantastic Beasts Posts:

Elizabeth Baird-Hardy’s Fantastic Beasts Posts

Guest Posts:

Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald

Today’s entry in the Pillar Post Project is Crimes of Grindelwald. Believe it or not, there are already fifty HogwartsProfessor posts on the second Fantastic Beasts film. Below you’ll find them all in one place and sorted into nine categories. 


nota bene

Is ‘Nagini’ the Name of the Maledictus in Crimes of Grindelwald? Nagini Gaunt? (Loomis/Granger)

Deleted Scene Dialogue: Theseus/Leta (Willis) (Hardy)



Crimes of Grindelwald Group Portrait: Is It a Meaningful Picture of the Story? (-> Groves) (-> Sipal)

Box 2703: A Pointer to Alchemy in Crimes of Grindelwald?


Ring Composition

Crimes of Grindelwald: The Story Ring




Guest Posts (Barnhart)

not bene (Schaubert) (Voetberg) (Frankel) (Frankel) (-> Groves) (Groves) (Groves) (Loomis) (September Fawkes) (Semmens)


Predictions (-> Sipal, Tarantino, et aliis) (Loomis) (Hardy) (Semmens)

The Ariana-Credence Theory (Rectenwald) 

Rowling Interviews

Fantastic Beasts: The Presence Speaks




Actor Interviews

Fantastastic Beasts Cast Visits Alabama?

Fantastic Beasts: ‘Absurd Fan Theories’