New Fantastic Beasts Posters: Lights, Flowers, the All-Important Backdrops, and our Missing Leading Lady

As we await April and the release of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, we’ve already been closely analyzing the previews and posters as they come along, dissecting the carefully arranged images and making predictions that may turn out to be dead accurate, wildly off base, or somewhere in between. Last week, we were treated to a series of eighteen character posters, and they are likely already going up across the country in theaters eager to welcome back live audiences after nearly two years of viewers relying more on streaming than on the cineplex.

While there will be plenty of folks eager to blow some money, gobble some popcorn, and just enjoy the promised CGI-fest, maybe even in IMAX, there may also be more to the film than just another money-spinning blockbuster; there is certainly more to these posters than just glossy headshots of attractive people with sparkly sticks. We could be dazzled and distracted by the pretty faces or snazzy costumes, but there are a few interesting themes that are noticeable, including the use of lights and light sources, a strange flower motif, and some very well positioned backgrounds.

Of course, we also need to talk about the Auror in the room, or rather, the Auror who isn’t in the room. Join me after the jump as we take a peek at each poster we have (and speculate on the one we don’t have) to make some of those predictions!

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Harry Potter, Newt Scamander, & Wands

This clip from a 2016 interview with Eddie Redmayne, the actor who plays Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise, highlights his relationship with the wand the character uses. I confess to enjoying this despite being no fan of the Potter adaptations and the Beasts franchise. After the jump — Three Notes! [Read more…]

The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power

The Behind-The-Scenes video of how they made this clip can be seen here.

Maybe you’re like me and you didn’t know (or forgot?) that Amazon is filming a prequel to J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings novels. Today the title for this series was announced from Valhalla with quite a few Wagnerian effects: ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.’

“This is a title that we imagine could live on the spine of a book next to J.R.R. Tolkien’s other classics,” showrunners and executive producers J.D. Payne & Patrick McKay said in a statement. “The Rings of Power unites all the major stories of Middle-earth’s Second Age: the forging of the rings, the rise of the Dark Lord Sauron, the epic tale of Númenor, and the Last Alliance of Elves and Men.”

They added: “Until now, audiences have only seen on-screen the story of the One Ring – but before there was one, there were many… and we’re excited to share the epic story of them all.”

In the title video, various shots of Middle-earth are seen as molten metal is poured into a forge and cooled to create the series’ title in silver, its lettering in Elven script. Over this, a female voiceover – a young Galadriel perhaps? – recites Tolkien’s epigraph to Lord of the Rings

Still feeling a bit lost? I sure was. Here’s back-story from Wikipedia:

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is an upcoming American television series based on stories by J. R. R. Tolkien. Developed by J. D. Payne and Patrick McKay for the streaming service Prime Video, the series is set in the Second Age of Middle-earth before the events of Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings novels. It is produced by Amazon Studios in cooperation with the Tolkien Estate and Trust, HarperCollins, and New Line Cinema, with Payne and McKay serving as showrunners.

Amazon bought the television rights for The Lord of the Rings for US$250 million in November 2017, making a five-season production commitment worth at least US$1 billion. This would make it the most expensive television series ever made. Payne and McKay were hired to develop the series in July 2018, with the rest of the creative team confirmed a year later. The large ensemble cast includes actors from around the world. Filming for the first season took place in New Zealand, where the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit film trilogies were made, from February 2020 to August 2021, with a production break of several months during that time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first eight-episode season is scheduled to premiere on Prime Video on September 2, 2022. A second season was formally ordered in November 2019. Amazon announced in August 2021 that filming for future seasons would take place in the United Kingdom.

I think the take-away here is the date ‘November 2017.’ Christopher Tolkien, third son of J. R. R. Tolkien and appointed literary executor, had been head of the Tolkien Estate and Trust until August 2017. The Tolkien Estate and Trust, insomuch as it was the sock-puppet of Christopher Tolkien, despised the movie adaptations of Lord of the Rings and sued the film makers repeatedly and successfully for breach of contract. I discussed this in a 2013 post, ‘The Tolkien Estate and the Movies: Why We Should Care.’ If you doubt Christopher Tolkien “despised” the movies, here is a direct quote from the man:

Invited to meet Peter Jackson, the Tolkien family preferred not to. Why? “They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25,” Christopher says regretfully. “And it seems that The Hobbit will be the same kind of film.”

This divorce has been systematically driven by the logic of Hollywood. “Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed into the absurdity of our time,” Christopher Tolkien observes sadly. “The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work, and what it has become, has overwhelmed me. The commercialization has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing. There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

The current project — and it’s $250 million advance with a likely $1 billion payday — was only possible when Christopher Tolkien not only turned his “head away” from the desecration of his father’s work, but also removed himself as the obstacle to this great profit taking. I write about this here for three reasons: [Read more…]

Evanna Lynch Denies “Rift” Between JK Rowling and Harry Potter Cast

Evanna Lynch, the actress J.K. Rowling said “was Luna Lovegood” spoke about the Harry Potter Reunion special, and rejected the idea that there was any major “rift” between the author and the actors that became stars in her work. She does, however, speak of “difficult conversations” between the cast and the author and expresses hope for “healing.”  I encourage readers to view her full statement. 

As someone who considers many of JKR’s tweets to be both misguided and hurtful to the transgender community, but who nonetheless appreciates the brilliance of her writing and intends to keep reading it, I find Ms. Lynch’s approach refreshing and comforting. It is not clear who the “us” is that she doesn’t want to “keep fighting”– her fellow cast members and JKR or JKR and the wider Twitter community, but she is clearly, as the anchor puts it, a peacemaker, who states that she, and her castmates have “great love and respect” for Ms. Rowling, despite disagreement with her views. 

Ms. Lynch is a woman of strong opinions herself, as a vegan and an animal activist. She has been open about how both correspondence with her favorite author and the Harry Potter books helped her recover from a serious eating disorder. I am happy to hear that she, at least, does not believe Ms. Rowling’s limited involvement with the reunion special is the result of any type of “cold shoulder.” If, as Ms. Lynch suggests, JKR is “busy writing books,” maybe we’ll have The Ink Black Heart in hand that much sooner. 

 

The Batman- Coming Soon with Some Familiar Hogwarts Faces under Those Masks!

Superhero movies continue to be popular these days, and even without a multiverse storyline to explain all his incarnations, we’re stillBatman bearing his traditional black batsuit stands in the rain surrounded by red light with the film's logo, title and release date beneath him seeing plenty of versions of Gotham’s Caped Crusader. The new “Bat and Cat” Trailer gives a good long sneak peek at The Batman, scheduled for theatrical release March 4, 2022. If you are a fan (or even if you’re not), you may want to check out this amazing trailer, not only for the incredible Batmobile action sequences that should be phenomenal on the big screen, but also to see some Hogwarts alums who are trading in their robes for capes… and claws.

Details after the jump!

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