Fantastic Beasts 3 In Brazil, On Schedule

Deadline.com in an “EXCLUSIVE” article not much longer than its title, ‘Fantastic Beasts 3′ Moving Forward With Spring 2020 Start, Jessica Williams’ ‘Lally’ Character To Play Pivotal Part In Brazil-Set Threequel, has told us what Warner Brothers wants us to know this week about the third film in their Fantastic Beasts franchise. The three high points of this press release are that the film will be set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, that the Jessica Williams character, a professor at Ilvermorny, will have a larger role than she did in Crimes of Grindelwald, and that the film will start filming next year and be released on 12 November 2021.

All of which we knew. The Rio setting was made clear more than a year ago in a Rowling tweet and twitter header (above), the Williams professorial role announced in April 2018 couldn’t get any smaller in the third film, and the date was set six months ago. I think it is safe to say that this “EXCLUSIVE” report is only meant to remind us that this movie is in the making; the odds of our forgetting without these bimonthly refreshers, given the mess that was Crimes of Grindelwald and the two years between now and our ability to see the movie, are quite good.

There is news that is worthy of note just after the reassuring bit about the actors and actresses returning in their roles (all are there except Leda Lestrange which I expect is an absence to prevent the giveaway that was made early on in Crimes marketing with the announcement of Ezra Miller’s return). At the end of the fine print paragraph listing the nine Producers and Executive Producers, the attentive reader will note this throw-away line: “The screenplay will be written by J.K. Rowling and Steve Kloves.”

My hope is this announcement means that Rowling will be writing the story and that Kloves will turn that story into a screenplay and shooting script that David Yates won’t have to butcher “to fit the woman to the dress,” as Kloves called re-writing Rowling’s scripts so they conformed to Warner Brothers formula. We’ll know in two years if that is the case and whether or not it worked. If Rowling’s picture that was used as a cameo in a recent Letters to Europe article in The Guardian (left) is any sign, the process is not rejuvenating her.

Hat-tip to an anonymous friend ‘Over There’ for the Deadline.com story and for the unflattering cameo picture note. Please click on the ‘Leave a Comment’ button up by the post’s title and let me know what you think!

Jacob Kowalski — on a Diet?

Friend of this weblog and frequent contributor Kelly Loomis sent me a picture last month of Dan Fogler. She wrote: “Fogler at LeakyCon – he just came from the Walking Dead set. Doesn’t even look like his former dumpling self. He confirmed that filming for Fantastic Beasts 3 will begin in February 2020. How will his weight loss affect his character?”

Three thoughts:

(1) The less we think about the actors in films, the better. Dan Fogler and Ezra Miller are perfect examples of why this is such a good principle; both are risibly self-important and uninformed — and nothing either of them says contributes to our understanding of the story being told or how it might unfold.

(2) A Skinny Jacob Kowalski is not a problem: I have to suspect Mr Fogler is more than capable of regaining the weight he has lost for ‘Walking Dead’ if he so desired; the American holiday season is a gift to anyone wanting to pack on pounds. If he wants to remain relatively svelte, the fat suit fitters and cosmetic scientists at Warner Brothers are equal to the task.

(3) Maybe Jacob loses weight in Fantastic Beasts 3: We’re assuming that Fogler lost the weight for ‘Walking Dead’ and that this presents a problem because he plays a fat baker in the Beasts movie. we could, however, read this weight loss as a clue to the transformation he is to undergo in coming films. There has already been one magical parasite in the movies. Perhaps Jacob Kowalski is infected, enchanted, or imprisoned in Beasts 3 and loses that chubby persona — back to the fighting weight he was in as a doughboy in the WWI trenches.

Forgive me for the minute of your life you have lost to perusing this speculation! Feel free to chide me for violating the principle in (1) above and please do share your thoughts about Skinny Jacob if you are so moved.

Four Dropped Threads in Beasts Films

I’m a shameless Laurie Beckoff fan-boy. She’s a UChicagwarts alumna, a Jeopardy champion, and a first tier Potter Pundit. If you have any doubts about that, go back and listen to the ‘Reading, Writing, Rowling’ podcast in which she was the guest expert on King Arthur and the Medieval aspects of the Hogwarts Saga, the subject of her Master’s thesis. Smart, funny, well-read — did I mention “smart like Hermione”? You can watch her tell her Harry Potter story (with great pictures of her pre-teen Luna Lovegood Halloween costume) here.

Anyway, I stumbled on an article Beckoff wrote for MuggleNet last year — she is a regular contributor to the “#1 Wizarding World Resource since 1999,” not to mention MNet podcast producer and their Campaign Co-ordinator — about The Crimes of Grindelwald. The piece is just what its title says it is, namely, Four “Fantastic Beasts” Threads Lost in “Crimes of Grindelwald.”

We’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink here about the failings of Crimes of Grindelwald (check out the fifty pieces listed on the film’s Pillar Post) but I think this Beckoff post on ‘Lost Threads’ brings up the more obvious and at least as important point not discussed here. The sequel failed to deliver on expectations primarily because it didn’t work as a sequel, i.e., the things we learned in Beasts 1 didn’t mesh with the developments we were given in Beasts 2. Jacob’s obliviated-by-rain memory and his shop? Credence’s death? Newt’s expulsion from Hogwarts? Leta’s relationship with Newt? “All gone!”

Yes, there’s a lot more that’s wrong with Crimes than that. We had the director once again butcher Rowling’s shooting script ring composition, for example. The Leta Lestrange sub-plot was incomprehensible because almost every cut scene was one that included Leta or was about her. Check out the Pillar Post for the full agonizing survey. Having noted all that, though, it pays to remember the first great disappointment with Crimes for fans was that it didn’t work as a Fantastic Beasts follow-up. Beckoff’s list of “lost threads” brings that shock back into sharp focus. Check it out and let me know what you think!

Fantastic Beasts Theme Park On Its Way

Universal has announced that is building a new theme park in Orlando, Florida, on a seven and a half acre property several miles from their current site featuring The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The new park will include several new features, the most interesting to Potter-philes being a Fantastic Beasts section. The ground has been graded and prepared already so the owners hope to break ground later this year and open the new park in 2023. Read all about the plans, schedule, and property at OrlandoParkStop.com.

I admit to being surprised at this move but this only speaks to my naivete. If I had given it any thought (and of course I haven’t), I would have realized the success or failure of a film franchise is not the only factor in consideration for their adaptation as a theme park, perhaps it is not even a major or critical factor. For evidence of that, review the movies and television programs featured at various Universal Studios. Fantastic Beasts may not be a blockbuster franchise a la Harry Potter but it is doing well enough to be recognizable as a title and the precedent of Wizarding World success makes it a natural.

I doubt, though, that it will ever achieve the kind of pilgrimage status that Wizarding World’s Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley have. The Beast movies lack the imaginative experience in depth that the Potter books inspired. As excited as any fan may be about Newt Scamander’s adventures and the revelations of Credence’s history against the back-drop of the Dumbledore-Grindelwald blood pact, it just isn’t in the same league of engagement and wonder as Harry’s battles with the Dark Lord.

Your thoughts? 

Thanks to Kelly for sharing the news about this new park.

Will Leta Return in Fantastic Beasts 3?

If you had to choose the single biggest problem with Crimes of Grindelwald, the one thing that caused movie-goers to leave the theater saying “What just happened?” in frustration rather than curiosity, I think a good choice among too many options would be the Leta Lestrange story as told in the second Fantastic Beasts film. Go back and read the firstCrimes of Grindelwald: Deleted Scenespost here at HogwartsProfessor. In that post you get Kelly Loomis’ initial look at the scenes we had been shown before the movie’s release that didn’t make the final cut, i.e., the shooting script elements that were edited out of the released film. As I wrote at the time:

Leta Lestrange is the Star of the Shooting Script: Go ahead and count the scenes about Leta’s character that don’t make it into the final cut.

  • There’s the dance scene filmed in the same blue light as the Ampitheater finale (I assume where she meets Theseus or makes contact with Grindelwald’s gang, a parallel that explains Gellert’s conversation with her before she blasts his skull-hookah).
  • And the pub scene with Newt and Theseus, in which I guess Theseus asks him to be his best man and they touch on their shared love for the same woman.
  • And the Dumbledore conversation with Minerva McGonagall, in which I’m guessing they talk about Leta’s time at Hogwarts.
  • Leta and Theseus have a good talk at Hogwarts, too, but we miss out on that which empties their French Ministry exchange of context.
  • And the battle scene with the Ministry cats.
  • And her full flashback scene in the Mausoleum.

As it is, Leta’s story is truncated and her telling, “I love you” to both Newt and Theseus in the climactic battle leaves viewers saying, “Huh?” Her tale of the Corvus Lestrange death on the ship seems to come out of nowhere even with the boggart set-up — and we get hardly a clue about her supposed “wickedness” or relationship with Dumbledore or Grindelwald before she disappears in the Amphitheater flames (my guess is that she is the character to whom Rowling is referring when she says what you think you thought you saw ain’t what happened). Leta was robbed and we all suffered for her fate in the editing of the shooting script’s film.

Leta Lestrange, in brief, was robbed and every person who bought a ticket to see Crimes of Grindelwald was only given a part of the major back story of the film. If we had been given the Leta story in full, the Corvus-Credence-Aurelius mystery would be inviting rather than a senseless jumble.
Rowling told us in 2018 that “Whatever you think you know at the end of the movie might not be the case [you think].” The movie as edited was such a mash-up, it’s a toss-up about what she might have meant. Queenie the traitor? Credence a Dumbledore? Or was it that Leta Lestrange dies that is the event we think happens that didn’t really happen?

Frankly, I hope so and there are two or three encouraging signs in this regard. First, it looks like Zoe Kravitz may have been signed to film new scenes in Beasts 3: Zoe Kravitz Rumored to be Returning. That could, of course, just be for flashback scenes akin to the memories of Hogwarts we got in Crimes of Grindelwald. It could, though, mean that she didn’t die and the two David’s will have another shot at giving us Rowling’s story as written rather than “fitting the woman to the dress,” the corset of Warner Brothers blockbuster formula and time restrictions.

When Kravitz was first signed for the movies, she said she expected to be in more than one film:

 Have they told you how much more you’ll get to be in?
KRAVITZ:  I think there’s a few [movies] ahead. The relationship between Leta and Newt Scamander is a complex relationship, so I think there will be a lot of time for that to grow and develop, which will be fun.

Andrew Sims at Hypable thinks that Leta didn’t die and cites this exchange Kravitz had with Dan Fogler at his inane podcast interview with her:

Dan Fogler: Spoilers.. you get fuckin’ toasted by… you get Blue Fire Toasted.
Zoe Kravitz: Leta Go Bye Bye.
Fogler: Leta Go Bye Bye. Did they give you any idea you’d come back as a ghost or something?
Kravitz: It seems very unclear.
Fogler: I want you to haunt Jacob or something. Like you’ve got something to tell from beyond the grave.
Kravitz: I’d love to do that. A little haunting action would be cool. I don’t know. It was, I think it was a kind of a last minute change that she gets toasted.
Fogler: They’re going to have to bring you back somehow. I think they’re gonna have to.
Kravitz: It’d be cool if they did, but if they don’t, that’s fine.
Fogler: They brought Credence back! The Obscurus helped him. Maybe some kind of Lestrange thing where you reincarnate, like Gandalf.
Kravitz: I’m open to all possibilities.
Fogler: I’m gonna… Well who knows what’s gonna happen, but I’m gonna float that out there. I really want you to come back.

Here’s hoping that Rowling gets a “second bite at the apple” in Beasts 3 to tell the Leta Lestrange story with all its implications for the Newt-Theseus relationship and whether we can trust Dumbledore or not vis a vis Grindelwald. Let me know your thoughts on the subject by clicking on ‘Leave a Comment’ up by the post title.
Hat tip to Kelly Loomis, the HogPro Beasts authority, for all these links and ideas!